Information Warfare

Evaluating the Ambiguous Cognitive Terrain: A Framework to Clarify Disinformation


Defense and civilian planners have struggled to place disinformation as a discrete weapon in the cognitive domain. This is so because disinformation is inadequately and ambiguously defined for military and civilian components. When comparing the cognitive terrain to other forms of geography, it becomes evident why it is contested and relevant to national security. This paper analyzes the reasons for the ambiguity and explains why national security professionals must develop a framework to identify disinformation. Because disinformation is an element of cognitive warfare, it can be defined using a set of three criteria. The criteria fix disinformation in the cognitive domain enabling the warfighter and homeland defenders to counter and use it effectively.

Combatting Privacy Information Warfare: A New Incident Response Framework


When nation-state actors weaponize information to harm individuals, communities, and societies, they erode civilian confidence in legitimate authorities, institutions, and defences to impact national security. This paper proposes new conceptual models and a methodology, the Privacy Incident Response Plan (PIRP). The methodology’s design prepares and mitigates privacy-related harms, tactics, techniques, and mitigation strategies to counter sophisticated threat actors. Using this methodology, contingency planners and incident responders can develop strategies to defend against the privacy harms of information warfare.

Covert Action as Hybrid Warfare—Clarifying the Semantics


In the era of labels, distinguishing between constructs is becoming increasingly difficult. Covert action and hybrid warfare are two constructs suffering from this predicament. The question is whether covert action is hybrid warfare, vis-a-versa, or whether one construct eclipsed the other. In an era where covert action has become problematic from an international relations perspective, is this predicament being resolved by labelling covert action as hybrid warfare? This article explores the semantics and nuances of these two constructs to clarify their relative utility. The paper argues that covert action is subordinate to hybrid warfare. Covert action forms part of a synchronized line of effort within a broader hybrid warfare campaign, when planned effectively against a target and target audience(s).

The Space of Influence: Developing a New Method to Conceptualise Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference on Social Media


Foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) on social media is a fast- evolving threat to democracies. However, there is a growing need to systematically conceptualise the phenomenon. General Morphological Analysis seeks to explore the totalities of a complex problem, but is restricted by simplification. Using and modifying the method expands the morphological space. This expansion and relying on statistical calculation expose internal interdependencies of the phenomenon. Operation design is largely dependent on five parameters: ‘spread strategy’, ‘information channelling’, ‘market targeting’, ‘presented source’, and ‘operational openness’. These parameters are more likely to affect other parameters and thereby define significant aspects of a FIMI operation.

Destabilizing a Regime to Support a Military Campaign, and Vice Versa


This essay aims to identify vulnerabilities and exploitation means necessary to use destabilization to support a military, and ultimately political, objective in a potential conflict between China and the governments supporting a liberal rules-based order. Japanese efforts during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 showed destabilizing a regime as a credible way to support military objectives during a conflict and provided some key insights by which destabilization efforts function. Based on the historical case and contemporary analysis of China, this essay makes recommendations to decision makers in a conflict on how to best execute and support destabilization efforts.

The Caesar Cipher and Stacking the Deck in New York State Voter Rolls


Voters in New York State are identified by two identification numbers. This study has discovered strong evidence that both numbers have been algorithmically manipulated to produce steganographically concealed record attribute information. One of the several algorithms discovered has been solved. It first utilizes a mechanism nearly identical to the simple ‘Caesar Cipher’ to change the order of a group of ID numbers. Then, it interlaces them the way a deck of cards is arranged to create a ‘stacked deck’. The algorithmic modifications create hidden structure within voter ID numbers. The structure can be used to covertly tag fraudulent records for later use.

The Evolution of Information Warfare in Ukraine: 2014 to 2022


In January 2022, Russian forces began building up on the Ukrainian border prior to entering Ukraine in what was termed a ‘special military operation’ in support of ethnic Russians. In the ten months of conflict, there has been a range of information warfare tactics deployed, most notably disinformation and cyber operations. Ukraine is a particularly useful case study due to the ongoing tensions and low-intensity conflict, since the social media-led uprisings and annexation of Crimea in 2014. This article conducts an analysis of the information warfare in the Russo-Ukraine conflict, and contrasts this to prior operations to illustrate the evolution, limitations, and possible future of information warfare during a kinetic conflict.

Russia’s Misinformation Campaign during Wartime: The Threat to Deploy Nuclear Weapons against Ukraine and Her Allies


Russia has historically employed deception, misinformation/disinformation, propaganda, active measures, and information operations to dissuade and limit state actors from pursuing courses of actions that challenge the Kremlin’s political and military objectives. Misinformation is non-kinetic and both informs and assists Russia’s military strategy. Communication platforms with global reach spread state-sponsored misinformation to influence, shape, and limit Western political and military responses against Russia’s war in Ukraine. That Kremlin’s stated willingness to deploy tactical and strategic nuclear weapons against Ukraine and the West follows narratives that generate doubt and uncertainty regarding the true intentions of Russian state behaviour.

Information Warfare and Critical Infrastructure: The Combined Power of Information Warfare Threats


Critical Infrastructure (CI) is an area that has historically been rife with vulnerabilities, open to foreign and domestic threats. Recent events such as the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods provider ransomware attacks highlight the need for better security and resiliency from cyber threats. However, within the Information Warfare (IW) constructs that have become increasingly refined by peer adversaries like China and Russia, the areas of Electromagnetic Warfare (EW), Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), and Information Operations (IO) have become equally important to consider in the panoply of IW. This raises the important question regarding whether CI assets are adequately protected from the full complement of IW threats. Each IW area will be discussed from a threat perspective and examples will be presented to show how these threats can be combined to disrupt, deny, and destroy CI and CI assets with special attention given to peer and non-peer adversaries and the asymmetric advantages of each.

Information Influence Operations: Application of National Instruments of Power


National Instruments of power are means for a nation to exert influence on other nations to achieve certain ends. This paper examines how Ukraine used its national instruments of power during the first months of the Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 to conduct information influence operations. First, information influencing as a concept is described and then the framework of the paper is constructed by describing instruments of power and the basic elements of a strategy. This framework is then used to analyse how Ukraine used its instruments of power. Finally, this paper sums up the results with discussion and conclusions.

Future of Information Influence Operations: Scifi as a Tool to Imagine the Unthinkable


The importance of information influence operations in international conflicts has increased. New technologies and tools like the Internet and social media have enabled influence operations to shift to new channels with a wider audience. But what will happen to information influence operations in the future? By using future studies’ methods like scenarios and science fiction, it is possible to try to imagine the various possibilities for information influence operations. This article presents a method for creating scifi stories based on scenarios to think about the future of information influence operations and their counteractions.

PSYOP, CYBER, and Internet Influence: Firing Digital Bullets


With the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, social media, and their continued exponential growth across society, it is necessary to comprehensively understand these platforms to engage threat networks at home and abroad. Undergirding all web-based actions, however, is human behaviour. Therefore, understanding human behaviour and the dynamic range of characteristics, actions, and attributes that are influenced by culture and context, for web-based offensive and defensive actions, is an ever-evolving niche skill. As such, non-kinetic activities and change efforts, especially in the cyber domain, require cross-cultural competence and experience in addition to any cyber capability.

My Unusual, Unexpected, and Unpredictable IW Journey, 1988-2021: A Memoir & Observations on the Future of IW Education


Up until 1981 I was a professional recording engineer and producer. By pure happenstance, in 1983 I was introduced to encryption while consulting to Western Digital. That work led me to a quite unconventional career shift that put me, an audio engineer, in the middle of international intriques surrounding the early days of information warfare. This is my story.

Modelling Information Warfare: Visualising Definitions, Fundamental Characteristics, and Foundational Theories of Contemporary Information Warfare


Increasingly, the term ‘Information Warfare’ (IW) encompasses the full gamut of techniques whereby information is employed to gain a competitive advantage in conflict or strategic competition. Research reveals commonalities in the underlying rationale, strategies, and means of historical and contemporary IW despite the evolution of the scale and scope of it. 

Evolution of Australia’s Cyber Warfare Strategy


Since 2000, Australia has re-positioned itself from a country having scant recognition of cyber warfare to a nation with limited offensive and defensive capability facing increasing cyber incidents from at least one state-based actor (informally attributed as China). The dominance of a continental defence culture hindered the early development of a robust cyber warfare capability, resulting in a limited focus towards national infrastructure security. 

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.

A General Theory of Influence in a DIME/PMESII/ASCOP/IRC2 Model


The leading question of this paper is “How can one conceptualise influence warfare in order to simulate it?” The authors discuss the foundational aspects of theory and model of influence warfare by building a conceptual framework. The framework forms a prism with three axes along the DIME/PMESII/ASCOP dimensions. The DIME concept groups the many instru-ments of power a nation-state can muster into four elements: Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economics. PMESII describes the operational environment in six domains: Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, and Infrastructure. ASCOPE is used in COunterINsurgency (COIN) environments to analyse the cultural and human environment (the ‘human terrain’) and encompasses Areas, Structures, Capabilities, Organization, People, and Events.

An Argument for Establishing a National Security Council Interagency Information Warfare Directorate - Part I


The following three articles examine three causal mechanisms prompting U.S. adversarial nation states to shift preference from conventional warfare (CW) to Non-Conventional Warfare (NCW): (1) the expansion of the information environment; (2) the globalisation, diffusion, and weaponisation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); and (3) their acknowledgment that NCW provides a broader menu of indirect approaches not previously afforded through traditional CW. It cautions U.S. decision makers to recognise this shift and to counter it by establishing an interagency Information Warfare Directorate in the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC IWD should draft practical policies that result in the integration of the various aspects of domestic and foreign departments and agencies to cross-coordinate NCW activities. This will require remediating national policy and authority gaps as well as addressing any shortcomings in the budget allocation process.

An Argument for Establishing a National Security Council Interagency Information Warfare Directorate - Part II


This article expands upon the previous article by examining the efficacy of Conventional Warfare (CW in a Non-Conventional Warfare (NCW environment. In particular, it attempts to characterise the relationship between globalisation and diffusion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT, in relation to its antifragility in NCW settings. More broadly, it argues that in an information-rich environment, characterised by advanced ICTs, adversaries now have the means to circumvent CW superiority and to influence policy asymmetrically. This article concludes that ICTs may align more appropriately with an NCW paradigm rather than the ostensible CW paradigm embraced by the West.

An Argument for Establishing a National Security Council Interagency Information Warfare Directorate - Part III


This concluding article briefly returns to the key themes identified in the first two articles in relation to the three causal mechanisms that prompted U.S. adversarial nation states to shift preference from Conventional Warfare (CW) to Non-Conventional Warfare (NCW). The article argues that by attaching an overt degree of salience to the integration of ICT in CW, analysts have overlooked its potential in NCW. 

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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