In his final foreign policy speech, President Bill Clinton listed among the United States’ top five military and security concerns the development of information warfare (Lacey). Given the importance of information technologies to the American economy and the U.S. military’s dependence on this system, any attacks on the information infrastructure could have severe consequences for the economy and for national security. For the U.S.’s best interests, taking the initiative in defining the limits of information warfare would be beneficial. The current U.S. trend toward concerning itself publicly more with computer network defense than computer network attack has prevented an adequate public dialog on the legalities involved with information warfare. The United States must address this issue before development of information warfare technologies goes much further. Resolving this issue at an international level can protect the United States from future information warfare attacks and present opportunities to retaliate against attackers.
Definition of Terms
Before exploring the implications of information warfare, a working definition of the term must be established. Due either to imprecision regarding information warfare’s specific operations or just that this form of warfare is very young, many definitions are available. The Air Force’s official definition of information warfare, articulated in the “Cornerstones of Information Warfare” report, is “any action to deny, exploit, corrupt or destroy the enemy's information and its functions; protecting ourselves against those actions; and exploiting our own military information functions” (Fogleman and Widnall). This def...
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McCoubrey, Hilaire, and Nigel D. White. International Law and Armed Conflict. Dartmouth: Brookfield, VT, 1992.
Molander, Roger C., and Sanyin Siang. “The Legitimization of Strategic Information
Warfare: Ethical Considerations.” Professional Ethics Report, Vol. XI, No.4, Fall 1998. < http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/sfrl/per/per15.htm >
Roberts, Adam, and Richard Guelff, eds. Documents on the Laws of War. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1982.
Schwartau, Winn. Information Warfare. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, 1994.
United States Space Command. “U.S. Space Command Takes Charge of Computer Network Attack.” 29 September 2000.
< http://www.spacecom.af.mil/usspace/rel15-00.htm >
Waltz, Edward. Information Warfare Principles and Operations. Artech House: Boston, 1998.
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