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Information warfare

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Information warfare is a complex and evolving field that involves the manipulation of trusted information to harm a target’s interests. It encompasses everything from the collection of tactical data to the spreading of propaganda, and its techniques are heavily reliant on technological advancements. Information warfare is closely linked to psychological warfare and forms a significant part of the operations of entities like the U.S. Air Force’s Information Warfare Squadrons. With the rise of the internet[1] and other digital platforms, this form of warfare has taken on a new dimension, including cyberspace attacks and the use of autonomous robots. Its impact extends beyond the battlefield, disrupting national security[2] and raising ethical and legal concerns. It’s a field that demands international cooperation and regulation to manage its challenges effectively.

Terms definitions
1. internet. The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use standardized communication protocols, primarily the TCP/IP, to link devices worldwide. Originating from the term 'internetted' used in 1849, the term 'Internet' was later used by the US War Department in 1945. Its development began with computer scientists creating time-sharing systems in the 1960s and further progressed with the establishment of ARPANET in 1969. The Internet is self-governed, without a central authority, and its principal name spaces are administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). It has significantly transformed traditional communication media and has grown exponentially over the years, with internet users increasing 20% to 50% annually. In 2019, over half of the world population used the Internet. The Internet protocol suite, which includes TCP/IP and four conceptual layers, guides internet packets to their destinations. Essential services like email and Internet telephony operate on the Internet. The World Wide Web, a global collection of interconnected documents, is a key component of the Internet.
2. security. Security, as a term, originates from the Latin 'securus,' meaning free from worry. It is a concept that refers to the state of being protected from potential harm or threats. This protection can apply to a wide range of referents, including individuals, groups, institutions, or even ecosystems. Security is closely linked with the environment of the referent and can be influenced by different factors that can make it either beneficial or hostile. Various methods can be employed to ensure security, including protective and warning systems, diplomacy, and policy implementation. The effectiveness of these security measures can vary, and perceptions of security can differ widely. Important security concepts include access control, assurance, authorization, cipher, and countermeasures. The United Nations also plays a significant role in global security, focusing on areas like soil health and food security.

Information warfare (IW) is the battlespace use and management of information and communication technology (ICT) in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. It is different from cyberwarfare that attacks computers, software, and command control systems. Information warfare is the manipulation of information trusted by a target without the target's awareness so that the target will make decisions against their interest but in the interest of the one conducting information warfare. As a result, it is not clear when information warfare begins, ends, and how strong or destructive it is.

A collage of various elements of information warfare from the first quarter of the 21st century. Clockwise from top left: Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Russian Armed Forces military exercise (2015); a United States Army soldier during virtual training (2009); United States Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki addressing death threats against the U.S. ambassador to Japan (2015); the Brandenburg Gate with the flag of France overlaid following the November 2015 Paris attacks (2015); Anonymous hacktivists protesting Scientology (2008); pamphlets distributed at the 2011 Egyptian revolution and the Revolution of Dignity that are inexplicably identical (2011; 2014)

Information warfare may involve the collection of tactical information, assurance(s) that one's information is valid, spreading of propaganda or disinformation to demoralize or manipulate the enemy and the public, undermining the quality of the opposing force's information, and denial of information-collection opportunities to opposing forces. Information warfare is closely linked to psychological warfare.

The United States Armed Forces' use of the term favors technology and hence tends to extend into the realms of electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, information assurance and computer network operations, attack, and defense. Other militaries use the much broader term 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.

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