Despite its pervasiveness in our daily lives, from social media to electrical networks to banking, the critical nature of the online remains ill-understood or appreciated. “Cyberspace,” a recent report asserts, “remains inadequately defended, policed and indeed comprehended.” This is the conclusion of Alex Michael, a researcher for the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. In Cyber Probing: The Politicisation of Virtual Attack, Alex dispels the comfortable belief – expressed in practice and conceptualization of online and new media – that the cyber world is somehow separate from the “real” world. In fact, they are simply new tools used for traditional activities. Cyber attacks, Alex points out, are used “in conjunction with many other forms of pressure, ranging from physical protest to social and diplomatic approaches, to influence the target and attempt to force its hand.” The Stuxnet worm reinforces Alex’s premise.
In his article, “Attack or Defend? Leveraging Information and Balancing Risk in Cyberspace,” Dennis Murphy discusses the Department of Defense’s policy toward the Internet, which enables opportunities to counter misinformation online and tell the story of the U.S. military. He questions, however, if organizational culture will embrace this approach.Murphy, a professor of Information Operations and Information in Warfare at the U.S. Army War College and retired U.S. Army colonel, notes the government must consider the use of the Internet by a potential adversary in future warfighting challenges. Although military leaders openly regard the importance of using new media and Internet tools, recent Defense Department policy directs commanders to continue to carefully monitor online behaviors.
Murphy recommends that leaders manage risk online while exploiting emerging cyber capabilities. Specifically, managing risk while providing the opportunity to engage effectively and exploit online opportunities requires a rebalancing of command philosophy, Murphy says. This can happen when commanders become more open to opportunities as they remain aware of threats – and let leaders at all levels do their job.
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If you’ll be in DC May 12-14, consider attending InfoWarCon, the “edgy, provocative, and evocative” conference on strategic communication and public diplomacy (even though State will be minimally represented… last year there were objections from the Truman building that “war” was in the event’s title) and cybersecurity / cyberwarfare. Checkout the agenda.
Unfortunately, due to a schedule conflict on my side, I am no longer chairing the initial plenary discussion on cyber and social media as I noted earlier. I’ll still be in DC that week, but I won’t be at InfoWarCon until the last day.
The Information Warfare Monitor (Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto and the SecDev Group, Ottawa) and the Shadowserver Foundation released a new report documenting a cyber espionage ring that “operated or staged their operations” from Chengdu, Peoples Republic of China.
Targets of this espionage activity included Indian government computers and the offices of the Dalai Lama.