Defensive Information Warfare

IWS Awareness and Understanding

We have much to learn and many to educate. When many of the individuals who need to become more aware of the threat and its potential consequences are exposed to the subject only by reading novels or going to the movies, we cannot really expect to develop the degree of understanding required. When the only exposure to the subject is through fiction, it is no wonder that the threat may be dismissed as fictional. There are still many individuals in key positions in both the public and private sector who need to have a better appreciation for this problem and to be more motivated to address the issues.

On the other hand, admittedly we do not possess a great abundance of factual information. While we have clear indications that some potentially serious attacks, even crippling attacks, are technically feasible, as has been pointed out, there is no "smoking keyboard" to show. Yet it should be pointed out that the time it took to create a working atomic bomb from the time its theoretical feasibility was recognized surprised many, even the most knowledgeable scientists.

Our ignorance about the nature of potential attacks is mirrored by a lack of knowledge about the effectiveness of current and developing defensive techniques and strategies.

When our systems are not being adequately monitored and incidents are not being adequately recorded and investigated, it is hard to see how we can develop the vastly improved understanding of both the threat and the effectiveness of defenses we require. Increased collection and analysis is clearly needed to provide the empirical foundation required to a) increase awareness, b) increase our understanding, c) support planning, and d) develop effective defenses. Given our tendencies to value privacy, both in terms of individuals and corporations, and the limitations we have imposed upon the collection of domestic intelligence, it is unlikely that sufficient information will be collected and analyzed by the Government to quickly determine the nature and extent of an ongoing IW attack in its early stages. Therefore, it is extremely important that when it appears that such an attack may be imminent or in progress, that "peace time" data collection and analysis arrangements be quickly shifted to a "war time" footing. In designing a DEFCON-like process, it will be important to define "trigger" events that will automatically cause information to flow to a situation assessment organization. This is because of the time criticality of providing up-to-date information to the decision makers who will be considering appropriate DEFCON-like decisions involving potentially costly actions to safeguard the NII and prevent further damage to our information infrastructure and the key public safety and economic functions that it supports.

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