Information Warfare: How to Survive Cyber Attacks

Information Warfare: How to Survive Cyber Attacks

by Michael Erbschloe
     
 

This revealing book explores the impact of information warfare and the disruption and damage it can cause to governments, corporations, and commercial Web sites. Is it possible for a small number of people to cause millions of dollars worth of economic destruction from a computer? Through the use of scenarios and profiles of the cyber-terrorist subculture, you'll… See more details below

Overview

This revealing book explores the impact of information warfare and the disruption and damage it can cause to governments, corporations, and commercial Web sites. Is it possible for a small number of people to cause millions of dollars worth of economic destruction from a computer? Through the use of scenarios and profiles of the cyber-terrorist subculture, you'll learn practical defense strategies for protecting your company or eCommerce site from cyber attacks.

The book also examines the steps that governments around the world need to take in order to combat the advanced skill levels of some of the most dangerous cyber-criminals today. Whether you're responsible for making technology decisions that affect your company's future, or interested in computer security in general, you won't find a more accurate and up-to-date book covering the emerging field of information warfare.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780072132601
Publisher:
McGraw-Hill Professional
Publication date:
06/01/2001
Series:
McGraw-Hill Computer Security Series
Pages:
315
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.09(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Erbschloe has more than 30 years of experience in business and IT management and consults with global companies on strategic technology and business issues. He consults with organizations on the economic impact of information systems attacks, and speaks on these topics at numerous conferences, including COMDEX, COBOL World, TECHXNY, and ISECURITY 2001. He has provided consulting services to the U.S. Department of Defense, General Dynamics, IBM, MCI, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, to name a few. He has also served as an expert witness in lawsuits on technology value and software copyrights.

Erbschloe has taught and developed curriculum at several universities. He is currently the vice president of research for Computer Economics in Carlsbad, Calif. He is also on the advisory board of the COMDEX conference and Global Information Infrastructure awards program. He has authored more than 2,500 articles and dozens of reports that have guided technology decisions in the largest organizations in the world.

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Chapter 1

Information Warfare: A New Framework for Analysis

Information warfare strategies and tactics have been of utmost concern to defense planners in industrialized nations since the middle of the 1980s. The growth in popularity of the Internet and the widespread use of the World Wide Web and related technologies have dramatically increased this concern. The U.S. Department of Defense and its counterparts in NATO and other military alliances have been training both offensive and defensive information technology warriors since the late 1980s. This concern and the training that has evolved have been primarily focused on the protection or the destruction of the strategic information infrastructure and military technologies. There is no doubt that the protection of these technology assets should be of concern, as should the ability of the military to attack and disable or destroy the information infrastructure of enemy states as an offensive strategy or counteroffensive measure. This perspective, although sound within itself, is far too narrow for planning defensive or offensive information warfare in the age of electronic commerce. Considerable effort has gone into protecting the infrastructure and securing military capabilities, but the commercial information and electronic commerce technologies on which so many corporations have become dependent remains highly vulnerable.

A simple and straightforward analogy is the vulnerability of civil aviation and how the need for airport and in-flight security has evolved over the last 40 years. Military airbases have always been under fairly tight security because of the need to protect national defense assets and personnel. As civil air transportation became the target of hijackings and bombings in the 1960s and 1970s, it became apparent that there was a need for security at public airports. As a result, the use of metal detectors, security forces, explosive-sniffing dogs, and x-ray equipment for baggage contents has become almost universal. In addition, there are the key questions by airline staff at check-in regarding the control of passenger baggage and the chance that a stranger has asked an innocent passenger to transport a package for him or her. Although not 100 percent foolproof, these simple security precautions make it more difficult for terrorists to abscond with a civilian aircraft or to smuggle weapons or explosives. Other examples of shifts in security attitudes are apparent at courthouses, public schools, and other civilian facilities. The Internet, however, has no such protections. The open access of the Internet is what makes Internet-connected organizations more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and economic espionage.

To begin to address the vulnerabilities that are inherent in the age of the Internet and electronic commerce, a new framework of analysis of information warfare, electronic terrorism, and economic espionage is absolutely necessary. The old school of information warfare that focuses on the protection or the destruction of military and industrial infrastructure is no longer adequate as a basis for planning national defense strategies against cyber attacks. This chapter presents elements of the framework that are necessary to include the protectionor for that matter, the destruction-of civilian activities in cyberspace, as information warfare strategies and tactics evolve.

To help establish a good understanding of the principles, dynamics, and economics of information warfare, this chapter examines, updates, and expands on several aspects of information warfare, including:

  • The ten categories of information warfare strategies and activities
  • The probability of various information warfare strategies being implemented
  • The establishment of a national information warfare defense structure
  • The military side of information warfare
  • The origin and mentality of technology terrorists
  • How private companies will need to defend themselves during an information warfare attack
  • The dynamics and viability of international treaties

Types of Information Warfare Strategies and Activities

To prepare for information warfare, it is necessary to define what information warfare is and-as with any type of warfare-identify and classify what types of information warfare can be practiced. Information warfare strategies, like physical warfare strategies, are designed to hinder or disable military forces, disable industrial infrastructures and manufacturing capabilities, or disrupt civilian and government economic activities in order to put an aggressor or a target country at a disadvantage. The purposes of establishing an advantage can run along a continuum from improving the negotiating position of the aggressor to the absolute destruction of a nation. Information warfare activities fall into ten major categories:
    Offensive ruinous information warfare An organized deliberate military effort to totally destroy the military information capabilities, industrial and manufacturing information infrastructure, and information technology-based civilian and government eco nomic activities of a target nation, region, or population.

    Offensive containment information warfare An organized deliberate military effort to cripple or disable military information capabilities, halt industrial and manufacturing information activities, and disrupt information technology-based civilian and government economic activity to leverage a strong negotiating posture for an aggressor over a target nation, region, or population.

    Sustained terrorist information warfare The ongoing deliberate efforts of an organized political group against the military, industrial, and civilian and government economic information infrastructures or activities of a nation, region, organization of states, population, or corporate entity.

    Random terrorist information warfare The sporadic efforts of an organized political group or individuals against the military, industrial, and civilian and government information infrastructures or activities of a nation, region, organization of states, population, or corporate entity.

    Defensive preventive information warfare An organized deliberate military protective effort to prevent an aggressor from destroying military information technology capabilities, industrial and manufacturing information technology infrastructure, and civilian and government information technology-based economic activities of a nation, region, or population.

    Defensive ruinous information warfare An organized deliberate military effort to totally destroy the military information technology capabilities, industrial and manufacturing information infrastructure, and information technology-based civilian and government economic activities of an aggressor nation, region, population, or military/terrorist force.

    Defensive responsive containment information warfare An organized deliberate military effort to cripple or disable military information technology capabilities, halt industrial and manufacturing information technology activities, and disrupt information technology-based civilian and government economic activity to leverage a strong negotiating posture over an aggressor nation, region, population, or military/terrorist force.

    Sustained rogue information warfare The ongoing deliberate efforts of an organized nonpolitical, criminal, or mercenary group against the military, industrial, civilian, and government economic information infrastructures or activities of a nation, region, organization of states, population, or corporate entity.

    Random rogue information warfare The sporadic efforts of an organized nonpolitical, criminal, or mercenary group or individuals against the military, industrial, civilian, and government information infrastructures or activities of a nation, region, organization of states, population, or corporate entity.

    Amateur rogue information warfare The sporadic efforts of untrained and nonaligned individuals or small groups against the military, industrial, civilian, and government information infrastructures or activities of a nation, region, organization of states, population, or corporate entity.

The Probability of Various Information Warfare
Strategies Being Implemented

The Cold War and the existence of nuclear weapons is proof that a strat- egy or a weapons system can exist and not be used by the nations or groups that have the ability to use it. Of course, this does mean we are operating under an assumption that a nuclear weapon was not used in an act of aggression since the end of World War II. Letting the assump- tion stand, we can conclude that the wide range of information warfare strategies in this analysis can exist and that nations can be prepared to implement such strategies during political conflicts, but the strategies never need to be used. We can also assume that even though it is not likely that an extreme information warfare strategy will be used, it is still prudent to be capable of defending against a wide variety of strategies. As in any warfare, a key element in predicting what kind of informa- tion warfare to be prepared to defend against is to analyze what resources are required to implement an information warfare strategy. Each of the ten categories of information warfare has a price tag, a required organizational structure, and a timeline for preparation and implementation.

    Offensive ruinous information warfare requires a well-trained military force that is capable of attacking and destroying an infor- mation infrastructure from both afar and on location. The strat- egy requires a wide range of mental and physical skill sets and an in-depth understanding of information architectures, program- ming, telecommunications, hardware, software, security, and encryption. It also requires access to a wide variety of telecom- munications systems and many types of computers. It may also require a physically capable and equipped task force to physically penetrate a computer or communications facility, retrieve or modify information, and possibly even destroy the equipment. This information warfare strategy is extremely expensive and could only be implemented by a nation that is willing to spend billions of dollars to develop specific methods and train the hundreds, if not thousands, of people necessary to implement the strategy. Very few nations can afford to implement offensive ruinous information warfare strategies.

    Offensive containment information warfare strategies are similar to offensive ruinous information warfare in resource requirements. It is not likely that real containment could be achieved without a highly skilled force. It is possible to achieve a harassing effect and be menacing using terrorist tactics-which could be also referred to as guerrilla or resistance tactics-and cause disruption. Depending on the circumstances, containment of an isolated region could be possible-even the least-equipped warriors of the past knew to cut the telegraph lines so the cavalry could not be wired to send help. Sophisticated offensive containment information warfare strategies, however, still require substantial investment and years of development and training of forces. As with offensive ruinous information warfare strategies, very few nations can afford to implement offensive containment information warfare strategies.

    Sustained terrorist information warfare is not an expensive process and can be implemented and maintained over long periods of time with an investment of a few million dollars. Certainly good skill sets are needed, but the process of terrorism is far more focused on disruption and harassment than complete destruction or containment. In a complete destruction or containment scenario, it is necessary not to do things to information architectures that will impede or injure one's allies. Since terrorists usually have few allies and generally have the worst of manners in the first place, they can use sloppy techniques that can disrupt and to some extent probably destroy some aspects of information technology-based economies. There are, or at least have been, several terrorist groups that can afford to carry out this type of information warfare strategy.

    Random terrorist information warfare is even less expensive than sustained terrorist information warfare. Sporadic terrorism does not require the ongoing recruitment, maintenance, and training of information warriors and thus can be implemented on a really slim budget. In general, random terrorist acts have little lasting impact except on those people who are immediately injured or killed. These random terrorist acts can have great public relations value for political causes, and if such acts are directed toward information technology, the press coverage will be widespread and dramatic. Again, there are, or at least have been, several terrorist groups that can afford to carry out this type of information warfare strategy.

    Defensive preventive information warfare has the same basic set of requirements that offensive ruinous information warfare has in terms of personnel, organization structure, and costs. Defensive preventive information warfare is necessary to defend against virtually all forms of offensive information warfare strategies. All information technology-dependent countries must develop defensive strategies, either independently or in a coalition. These strategies take years to develop and cost billions of dollars to implement and sustain.

    Defensive ruinous information warfare is a counteroffensive strategy that requires the full set of skills, organization structure, and cost structure associated with offensive ruinous information warfare and offensive containment information warfare strategies. It costs billions of dollars to implement and probably requires a coalition to implement and maintain.

    Defensive responsive containment information warfare and offensive containment information warfare strategies are similar except in the circumstances in which they are deployed. The cost is high, and it takes considerable time to develop strategies and tactics and train forces. There are few countries that can independently implement this strategy.

    Sustained rogue information warfare has a similar overhead requirement to that of sustained terrorist information warfare. It is not an expensive process and can be carried out over long periods of time with an investment of a few million dollars. Good skill sets are required, but staff may be relatively easy to recruit given the fact that legitimate information technology jobs are not the best-paying positions. The process of embezzlement, fraud, and blackmail pays well for those who get away with it, and those...

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