[ISN] Byte is worse than the bullet (infowar)

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Thu Oct 29 1998 - 00:21:10 PST

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    Forwarded From: Nicholas Charles Brawn <ncb05t_private>
    The Next World War
    By James Adams
    Random House $18.99
    Admirals and marshals, of the field and air variety, must be trembling in
    their polished boots at the prospect of having to mastermind the next
    great war. According to James Adams, it will be an information war, a
    clash acted out in the infosphere. Few commanders know how to fight it.
    Indeed, so complicated is the concept that no one is yet quite certain how
    to define it. 
    The term "information warfare", or "infowar", was coined in 1976 by a team
    of strategists led by Andy Marshall, director of assessments at the
    Pentagon. He felt there was a new kind of battle waiting to be fought by
    troops with laptops in their knapsacks, firing bytes instead of bullets. 
    Clearly it would be a young man's game: nobody older than 40 seemed likely
    to get the hang of it or to have digital fingers suitable for the trigger. 
    On the chessboard of the strange new world battlefield where the computer
    is king, cyberknights gallop over squares manned by intellectual pawns
    known as hackers and crackers. Jet fighters will be transformed into
    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, piloted not by top guns but by bespectacled
    computer geeks in uniform controlling their death-dealing potential from
    the safety of a distant keyboard and screen. Warships will be replaced by
    floating weapons' platforms like oil rigs that can be anchored to the
    seabed. The United States navy already has plans for a floating robot
    known as an "arsenal ship", operated by remote control and carrying 500
    Cruise missiles. 
    Even the foot soldiers will have high-tech stamped upon them. Imagine such
    a trooper in his forward foxhole, staring from a wired-up helmet that
    permits him to see all. It is computer-linked to record his precise
    position and that of the enemy and to pinpoint the origin of incoming
    fire.  This one-man weapons platform wears a uniform using body heat to
    adapt to different weather conditions. 
    The individual infantryman can deploy amazing lightweight weapons from his
    backpack. For instance, he will have microchip powered "ants" capable of
    hearing the enemy, getting up close and then exploding on command. 
    Miniature jet-flying machines can be deployed on forward reconnaissance
    and attack missions. He could take out a tank force by hitting their
    microprocessors and destroying their communications system. 
    Adams has pieced together a fantastic picture. He emphasises that many of
    the weapons of the info-warrior are already in existence. The Americans
    and probably the Russians are well advanced in creating new-age weapons. 
    But they are just one aspect of the information-war capability being
    developed by military scientists. They are planning a new kind of warfare
    which may well make the Gulf War look like the last classic confrontation,
    even though it was fought out with state-of-the-art weapons. These
    developments will bring to an end the mass clashes of armies that killed
    Commanders and statesmen need to rethink their plans. Karl von Clausewitz,
    the great Prussian military strategist, will need to go back to his
    celestial drawing board. The outbreak of infowar will revolutionise
    offensive and defensive strategy. Commanders will have to adapt to the old
    military exercise know as a TEWT - tactical exercise without troops. The
    bad news is that computer weapon can cause more casualties and more human
    suffering than the earlier lightning bolts of high-explosive and even
    nuclear war. Already hackers have demonstrated how easy it is to break
    into government computers. If specialist skills were used in war to plant
    "logic bombs" in enemy computers, a country could be devastated and its
    population maimed without a shot being fired. Worries about the millennium
    bug demonstrate just how computer-dependent modern societies have become. 
    Strategic hacking could be used to deprive enemy command and control
    facilities of their electricity supply. Their war machine could be
    crippled by inserting bugs into the computer programs that control it.
    Aircraft might be grounded or even destroyed. Cities could be brought to a
    standstill and deprived of water and power supplies; computer triggers
    could discharge devices to poison water supplies or spread lethal gases. 
    Even more terrifying is the thought that well-organised terrorists could
    use the same methods and create a new form of info-guerrilla warfare. It
    would not be easy to defend our society against such an offensive. The
    difficulties of tracking down a hacker were demonstrated by the case of a
    British computer buff who wormed his way into US defence data banks. He
    was eventually unmasked, having inflicted no real damage. More
    ill-intentioned crackers could create far greater mischief. 
    Adams has some interesting thoughts about a more familiar aspect of the
    infowar that already affects us. Instant television reporting of
    atrocities in minority ethnic conflicts excites compassion for the
    victims. "Something must be done," cry the citizens. Their governments
    respond by mounting peacekeeping operations and punitive air raids. When
    their armed forces take casualties, fickle opinion changes its tune to:
    "Save the lives of our boys!" Then the troops pull out. It happened in
    Beirut and Somalia. The sequence may be repeated in Kosovo. 
    What will happen to our cities, asks Adams, if such a scene is played out,
    pitting the West against a holy-warrior group unworried about casualties
    and equipped with infowar devices capable of firing nuclear devices at
    long range? Never forget the Trojan horse. 
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