THE NEW SHADOW WAR: Cyber Assaults on Democracy’s ‘Brain-Space’ are Here to Stay.
Information warfare involves the deliberate use of information to confuse, mislead, and affect the choices and decisions that the adversary makes. Cyber-enabled information warfare (CEIW) takes advantage of the features of information technologies and the internet: high connectivity, low latency, high degrees of anonymity, insensitivity to distance and national borders, democratized access to publishing capabilities, and inexpensive production and consumption of information content.
These aspects of modern information technologies enable foreign practitioners of information warfare to use automated Twitter accounts to amplify one-sided messages, to communicate with large populations at low cost without accountability, and at the same time to tailor political messages in a manner highly customized to narrow audiences. And because democracies place a greater emphasis on free expression and speech than do their authoritarian adversaries, democracies have fewer and more porous defenses against CEIW.
CEIW is hostile, but it is not warfare in any sense recognized under the United Nations Charter or the laws of armed conflict. The process emphasizes soft power, leveraging propaganda, persuasion, culture, social forces, confusion, and deception. If the patron saint of traditional warfare is Clausewitz, the patron saint of CEIW is Sun Tzu, who once wrote, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
And there is probably no one more susceptible to this kind of anti-republican (small-r) manipulation than today’s social-media crybullies.