Development of Information Warfare
In his final foreign policy speech, President Bill Clinton listed among the United States’ top five military and security concerns the development of information warfare (Lacey). Given the importance of information technologies to the American economy and the U.S. military’s dependence on this system, any attacks on the information infrastructure could have severe consequences for the economy and for national security. For the U.S.’s best interests, taking the initiative in defining the limits of information warfare would be beneficial. The current U.S. trend toward concerning itself publicly more with computer network defense than computer network attack has prevented an adequate public dialog on the legalities involved with information warfare. The United States must address this issue before development of information warfare technologies goes much further. Resolving this issue at an international level can protect the United States from future information warfare attacks and present opportunities to retaliate against attackers.
Definition of Terms
Before exploring the implications of information warfare, a working definition of the term must be established. Due either to imprecision regarding information warfare’s specific operations or just that this form of warfare is very young, many definitions are available. The Air Force’s official definition of information warfare, articulated in the “Cornerstones of Information Warfare” report, is “any action to deny, exploit, corrupt or destroy the enemy's information and its functions; protecting ourselves against those actions; and exploiting our own military information functions” (Fogleman and Widnall). This definition, while widely used compared to most, seems rather broad. Almost every form of conflict, related to the military or not, could easily fit under this definition. Feasibly, an argument between lawyers could be defined as an “action to deny, exploit, corrupt, or destroy the enemy’s information and its functions.” While widely cited, this definition proves inadequate for the limits of this paper.
The discussion concerning information warfare in the past decade evolved largely due to the rapid development of technology in that timeframe. The widespread use of computers and networks greatly expands the opportunities for military exploitation of such systems. An effective definition, therefore, should include references to these technological advances. The National Defense University defines information warfare as “the use of information and information systems as weapons in a conflict where information and information systems are the targets.” While emphasizing the role of technology in such conflicts, this definition also places the agent engaging in conflicts as the military.
Even under this definition, information warfare may take multiple forms. National Defense University...