Volume 19, Issue 4

Volume 19, Issue 4 Editorial

Stilized image of Word Editorial

Fall 2020

Strange times, indeed. Circumstances are dire across the globe. Here in the United States, we see news reports or broadcasts identifying COVID-19 as a combination of the worst pandemic in 100 years, the worst recession since the ’30s, and the worst riots since the ’60s … all rolled into one. On top of the fallout from the pandemic, we are aware that there are a number of Information Warfare (IW) campaigns being conducted around the world, in both positive and negative manners, that can significantly affect the conduct of present and future international policy. The papers in this edition of the JIW reflect the challenges of these times and circumstances.

Influence Operations & International Law


There is no treaty or specifically applicable customary international law that deals squarely with ‘Influence Operations’ (IO). Despite this, there are a number of discrete areas of international law that nonetheless apply indirectly to regulate this activity. These principally relate to the Use of Force (Jus ad Bellum), International Human Rights Law, and the Law of Armed Conflict. Influence Operations are presumptively lawful in each of these three areas provided that such activities do not cross relatively high thresholds of prohibition. In the event that an IO does cross a prohibition set by international law, there are a number of responses available to a targeted State.

Cyberwarfare: Threats, Security, Attacks, and Impact


Cyberwarfare, an emerging topic within computer science, has the potential to disrupt power grids, cripple economies, and cause political unrest. This paper first discusses investigations into the different groups behind cyberwarfare activities, from nation states to individual hackers. This is followed by an overview of cyberwarfare attacks covering methods, targets, and impact. Next, the economic, socio-political, and infrastructure impacts from cyberwarfare are considered. The paper concludes with a discussion of ways to mitigate the damage from these types of attacks, the importance of learning from the attack methods, and suggestions to prevent future attacks.

Meta-Uncertainty and Its Implications for Military Communications


Information sharing has always been crucial to military operations. This paper considers what explanatory content should be included to empower better decision making. The paper explores the concept of meta-uncertainty, this being produced in the absence of explanatory content. The paper uses two scenarios to explore the consequences of omitting the explanation. In the scenarios, Bayesian Networks are used to model inference under uncertainty. The scenarios indicate that meta-uncertainty can negatively affect decisions. A method of coping with meta-uncertainty is suggested, this being the probabilistic modelling of possible interpretations of the shared information.

The Principles of Distributed Authority for Transnational Cybersecurity: Is Cooperation with China Possible?


As they share power and authority, state and non-state actors alike are collectively responsible for the way cyberspace is, will be, and should be. Building on the concept of distributed authority and its underlying principles, this paper proposes a set of principles that underpin transnational cybersecurity strategies. It argues that any transnational security strategy for the digital age needs to be based on an ethical framework that puts collaboration at the centre. In addition, the article applies the principles in a short analysis of Chinese official documents and speeches to demonstrate that these principles are more universal than other researchers have argued.

Adversarial Attack’s Impact on Machine Learning Model in Cyber-Physical Systems


Deficiency of correctly implemented and robust defence leaves Internet of Things devices vulnerable to cyber threats, such as adversarial attacks. A perpetrator can utilize adversarial examples when attacking Machine Learning models used in a cloud data platform service. Adversarial examples are malicious inputs to ML-models that provide erroneous model outputs while appearing to be unmodified. This kind of attack can fool the classifier and can prevent ML-models from generalizing well and from learning high-level representation; instead, the ML-model learns superficial dataset regularity. This study focuses on investigating, detecting, and preventing adversarial attacks towards a cloud data platform in the cyber-physical context.

Information Influence in Society’s Information Environment: An Empirical Analysis Using the Grounded Theory


This paper investigates information influence in society’s Information Environment. The Grounded Theory approach was used to collect and to analyse the data. A conceptual framework of the thematic categories and item categories was developed on the basis of empirical evidence and past studies that reflect the findings of the field. The most fundamental components in this conceptual framework were six thematic categories (information influence, information operations, cyber operations, psychological operations, kinetic operations, and deception), their item categories, the items themselves, and the interrelationships between the thematic categories. 

The Taliban’s Information War: The Tactical Use of Frames


The Taliban are engaged in strategic information warfare on multiple fronts. This study examines how the Taliban use frames to transmit ideology for Information Operations. Frames are used tactically in information warfare because they are designed to generate responses via emotionally laden communication defined as propaganda. This study is unique because it analyses data derived from digital domains and from physical sources in Kabul. A Taliban Communication Typology has been culled from the 66 individual Taliban frames identified in this research. Analysis, via ontological coding, indicates that the Taliban communicate along five core messages that are framed to outline problems and solutions.

Understanding Influence Operations in Social Media: A Cyber Kill Chain Approach


Discussions about recent state-run influence operations in social media often focus only on quantitative elements—the number of people interacting with fake news or how many tweets were sent by bots. This article suggests that understanding how influence operations in social media may affect individuals and groups requires a socio-technical approach to examine what is unique about the social media information environment and people’s interactions in and through these media. A socio-technical understanding emerges through the development of a model based on the Cyber Kill Chain that conceptualises the influence operation process as interlinked stages seeking alternate actions from a target audience.

Journal of Information Warfare

The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.

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The definitive publication for the best and latest research and analysis on information warfare, information operations, and cyber crime. Available in traditional hard copy or online.


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