Information warfare

Information warfare

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The term Information Warfare (IW) is primarily an American concept involving the use and management of information technology in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. Information warfare may involve collection of tactical information, assurance(s) that one's own information is valid, spreading of propaganda or disinformation to demoralize or manipulate[1] the enemy and the public, undermining the quality of opposing force information and denial of information-collection opportunities to opposing forces. Information warfare is closely linked to psychological warfare.

The American focus tends to favour technology, and hence tends to extend into the realms of Electronic Warfare, Cyber Warfare, Information Assurance and Computer Network Operations / Attack / Defence.

Most of the rest of the world use the much broader term of "Information Operations" which, although making use of technology, focuses on the more human-related aspects of information use, including (amongst many others) social network analysis, decision analysis and the human aspects of Command and Control.



Information warfare can take many forms:

  • Television and radio transmission(s) can be jammed.
  • Television and radio transmission(s) can be hijacked for a disinformation campaign.
  • Logistics networks can be disabled.
  • Enemy communications networks can be disabled or spoofed.
  • Stock exchange transactions can be sabotaged, either with electronic intervention, leaking sensitive information or placing disinformation.

The US Air Force has had Information Warfare Squadrons since the 1980s. In fact, the official mission of the US Air Force is now "To fly, fight and air, space and cyberspace,"[2] with the latter referring to its Information Warfare role.

As the US Air Force often risks aircraft and aircrews to attack strategic enemy communications targets, remotely disabling such targets using software and other means can provide a safer alternative. In addition, disabling such networks electronically (instead of explosively) also allows them to be quickly re-enabled after the enemy territory is occupied. Similarly, counter information warfare units are employed to deny such capability to the enemy. The first application of these techniques was used against Iraqi communications networks in the first Gulf War.

Also during the 1991 Gulf War, Dutch hackers stole information about U.S. troop movements from U.S. Defense Department computers and tried to sell it to the Iraqis, who thought it was a hoax and turned it down. In January 1999, U.S. Air Intelligence computers were hit by a co-ordinated attack, part of which appeared to come from Israeli and French hacking.[3]

See also

Group specific:

US specific:




  • Winn Schwartau, ed, Information Warfare: Cyberterrorism: Protecting your personal security in the electronic age, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2nd ed, (1996) (ISBN 1560251328).
  • John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, In Athena's Camp, RAND (1997).
  • Dorothy Denning, Information Warfare and Security, Addison-Wesley (1998) (ISBN 0201433036).
  • James Adams, The Next World War: Computers are the Weapons and the Front line is Everywhere, Simon and Schuster (1998) (ISBN 0684834529).
  • Edward Waltz, Information Warfare Principles and Operations, Artech House, 1998, ISBN 0-89006-511-X
  • John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, RAND (2001) (ISBN 0833030302).
  • Ishmael Jones, The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture, Encounter Books, New York (2010) (ISBN 978-1594032233). Information/intelligence warfare.
  • Gregory J. Rattray, Strategic Warfare in Cyberspace, MIT Press (2001) (ISBN 0262182092).
  • Anthony H. Cordesman, Cyber-threats, Information Warfare, and Critical Infrastructure Protection: DEFENDING THE US HOMELAND (2002) (ISBN 0275974235).
  • Leigh Armistead, Information Operations: The Hard Reality of Soft Power, Joint Forces Staff College and the National Security Agency (2004) (ISBN 1574886991).
  • Thomas Rid, War and Media Operations: The US Military and the Press from Vietnam to Iraq], Routledge (2007) (ISBN 0415416590).
  • Daniel Ventre, Information Warfare, Wiley - ISTE (2009) (ISBN 9781848210943).
  • Daniel Ventre, Cyberwar and Information Warfare, Wiley - ISTE (2011).


External links


Course Syllabi

Papers: Research and Theory

Papers: Other

News articles

United States Department of Defense IO Doctrine

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • information warfare — n. A form of warfare that attempts to disrupt or disable an enemy s computers, networks, and other sources of information. Example Citation: Although information has been a key component of waging war since humanity s earliest days, the modern… …   New words

  • information warfare — noun the use of information or information technology during a time of crisis or conflict to achieve or promote specific objectives over a specific adversary or adversaries not everyone agrees that information warfare is limited to the realm of… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Information Warfare — Informationskrieg (engl. Infowar oder Information warfare) ist eine Bezeichnung für die gezielte Nutzung und Manipulation von gesteuerten Informationen, um in der Wirtschaft oder in der Politik Vorteile gegenüber Konkurrenten und Gegnern zu… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • information warfare — Information operations conducted during time of crisis or conflict to achieve or promote specific objectives over a specific adversary or adversaries. Also called IW. See also crisis; information; information operations; operation …   Military dictionary

  • information warfare — noun The use and management of information in pursuit of an advantage over an opponent, such as propaganda, disinformation, and gathering assurances that ones own information is accurate. Syn: infowar …   Wiktionary

  • Chinese Information Operations and Information Warfare — are based on concepts and terms similar to those used by the United States, but the Chinese have evolved them to be more suitable and relevant to Chinese culture and to communist doctrine. While the People s Republic of China has adopted the idea …   Wikipedia

  • 696th Information Warfare Wing — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 696th Information Warfare Wing caption= 696th Information Warfare Wing emblem dates= 2008 Present country= United States allegiance= branch= United States Air Force type= Information Operations role= Cyberspace… …   Wikipedia

  • 177th Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 177th Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron caption= 177th Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron emblem dates= 1984 Present country= United States allegiance= branch= United States Air Force type= Squadron role …   Wikipedia

  • Information Operations Roadmap — The Information Operations Roadmap is a document commissioned by the Pentagon in 2003 and declassified in January 2006. The document was personally approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [… …   Wikipedia

  • information superiority — n. The capability to collect, process and disseminate information while exploiting or denying an adversary s ability to do the same. Example Citation: Col. Charles J. Dunlap, staff judge advocate at the U.S. Strategic Command, doubts whether… …   New words

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