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War's Internet Operations

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posted on Mar, 27 2003 @ 07:32 PM
Although information operations have been tools of warfare for centuries, the Internet and other technologies are boosting their capabilities - and the stakes. The Pentagon has already sent unsolicited e-mails to Iraqi generals, encouraging them to defect. "Warfare is less and less about pushing men and machines around the battlefield and more and more about pushing electrons and photons", said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Arlington. The Pentagon has been mostly mum about what it can do and what it plans. Military analysts would not reveal specifics, fearful that Iraqis could develop countermeasures.

"One thing I can tell you for sure: People who really know about these programs can't tell you about these programs," said Bruce Berkowitz, a senior analyst with Rand Corp. But Berkowitz did spell out the goals: shape perceptions and get ahead of the enemy's decision-making intelligence through spying, jamming and deception.

Chris Prosise, a security researcher at Foundstone Inc. who formerly was assigned to the Air Force's Information Warfare Center, said the U.S. military has the same tools available to computer hackers. A virus, for instance, can create back-door openings for later break-ins.

President Bush already has signed a secret order to develop guidelines on launching cyberattacks. Once bombs start dropping, Bamford said, the military and intelligence communities will likely get all the authority they want. "They'll use this whole thing as a big training ground,'' Bamford said. "They'll experiment with everything they've been thinking about for a long time.''

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