Information Warfare: March 9, 2003


One of the expected tactics in a cyberwar is knocking the enemy nation entirely off the Internet. Iraq, it turns out, is very vulnerable to this. Iraq's sole Internet service provider (ISP), the State Company for Internet Services (SCIS), uses just two companies to handle nearly all it's Internet access. One company is American (Atlanta International Teleport of Douglasville, Ga.), and the other is British (SMS Internet of Rugby, Warwickshire.) SCIS uses satellites to send and receive Internet traffic, and all of that data moved via satellites and ground stations provided by the two foreign companies. This curious connection apparently occurred because SCIS went to the Arab Organization of Satellite Communications (ARABSAT) to obtain Internet access, and ARABSAT contracted Internet service from a number of commercial providers, who, in this case, included the American and British firms. Thus the U.S. and Britain could shut down Iraq's internet access by simply ordering AIT and SMS to cut the connection. ARABSAT could eventually arrange for other providers, but in the meantime, it is easier for U.S. and British intelligence agencies to keep an eye on Iraqi Internet activities via access to the Internet providers located in the U.S. and Britain. But Iraq has other problems with the Internet, all having to do with not establishing Internet service until 1999. Because of that, few Iraqis have up to date Internet skills. Iraq's Internet infrastructure is set up with little regard to efficiency and security. The government's main interest in the Internet is as a form of collecting information from overseas, and charging Iraqis high fees to use the Internet. Despite that, sending and receiving email is popular with Iraqis, as it is cheaper than phone calls. The government also spends a lot of effort on blocking Iraqis from morally (no porn) or politically (no dissident web sites) Internet content. No one in Iraq has displayed much capability for waging cyberwar on anyone. 


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