Information Warfare: February 10, 2003


The U.S. Department of Defense and intelligence agencies have been ordered to develop guidelines for launching Internet based attacks on hostile nations. Few details were released, but one thing guidelines are needed for is to avoid "collateral damage." Many forms of Internet attack can shut down worldwide access to the Internet if pursued energetically enough. Other forms of attack, like viruses and worms, can spread beyond the intended target and cause damage to neutral and friendly computers. The most difficult, and labor intensive, types of attacks are on individual servers. Such attacks may not always be practical, but a broader attack (like trying to shut down the Internet for a particular nation or area within a nation) could have undesirable side effects. Presumably, the guidelines being developed would specify when it is permissible to try riskier attacks. The newly reorganized U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) is in charge of "information operations," but would have to call on resources in other parts of the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency and other branches of the government that have useful information and tools for hacking.


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