• United States

Information warfare targets perception, attitudes

Apr 20, 20042 mins

* Introduction to information warfare

One of the battlespaces of information warfare is the cognitive domain: knowledge, perception, attitudes and mood.

Military campaigns have long used propaganda and misinformation to influence the military decisions of the enemy and to discourage soldiers and civilians. In the Second World War, for example, the Nazis used radio broadcasts into Britain to spread false information about the progress of the war; conversely, the Allies broadcast to the peoples of the Axis powers to blame the governments, but not the population, for the war, thus attempting to drive a wedge between civilians and their regimes.

More recently, there was a scandal in the U.S. in 1986 about a reputed disinformation campaign during the Reagan administration in which government officials were accused of misleading the press to convey false information to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi about an imminent attack. And of course currently there’s a major division in the U.S. between those who argue that the administration deliberately misled the American people into a pre-emptive attack on Iraq vs. those who suggest that the decision was based on incorrect information (or, for that matter, was correct despite the failure to find corroborative evidence of weapons of mass destruction).

Daniel Kuehl is the distinguished professor and director of the Information Strategies Concentration Program at the Information Resources Management College at the National Defense University in Fort McNair, Washington D.C. A frequent contributor to scholarly analysis of information warfare, Kuehl was the keynote speaker March 11 at the annual meeting of the Federal Information Systems Security Educators’ Association at the University of Maryland. After his lecture, we got into a discussion about the information warfare implications of a couple of trends in modern society: disintermediation and the lack of critical thinking in the population at large.

More on this in my next column.

For further reading:

* “Information Warfare,” Chapter 7 from _Computer Security Handbook, 4th Edition_, Bosworth, S. and M. E. Kabay, eds.

* _Cyberwar: Security, Strategy, and Conflict in the Information Age_, Campen, A. D., D. H. Dearth, and R. T. Goodden, eds.

* _The Information Revolution and International Security_, Henry, R. & C. E. Peartree, eds.

* _Information Warfare_, Schwartau, W.