Information warfare

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Information warfare, a sophisticated and continually evolving discipline, revolves around the strategic manipulation of reliable information to compromise an adversary’s interests. This comprehensive field ranges from the gathering of tactical intelligence to the dissemination of propaganda, heavily leveraging technological progress. The U.S. Air Force’s Information Warfare Squadrons and similar entities frequently employ information warfare, which is intrinsically tied to psychological warfare. The advent of the internet[1] and other digital mediums has added a fresh layer to this type of warfare, incorporating cyberattacks and autonomous robots. The repercussions of information warfare extend past the military realm, unsettling national security and provoking ethical and legal debates. This area necessitates international collaboration and regulation to effectively navigate its complexities.

Terms definitions
1. internet. The Internet, a global network of interconnected computer systems, utilizes standardized communication protocols, predominantly TCP/IP, to connect devices across the globe. The term 'Internet' has its roots in the 1849 term 'internetted' and was later adopted by the US War Department in 1945. The inception of the Internet can be traced back to the 1960s when computer scientists developed time-sharing systems, which eventually led to the creation of ARPANET in 1969. The Internet operates autonomously, without any central control, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages its primary name spaces. It has revolutionized traditional communication methods and has seen an exponential growth, with the number of internet users growing by 20% to 50% every year. In 2019, more than half of the global population was using the Internet. The Internet protocol suite, comprising TCP/IP and four conceptual layers, directs internet packets to their intended destinations. Fundamental services such as email and Internet telephony function on the Internet. The World Wide Web, an extensive network of interconnected documents, serves as a crucial element of the Internet.

Information warfare (IW) is the battlespace use and management of information and communication technology (ICT) in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. It is different from cyberwarfare that attacks computers, software, and command control systems. Information warfare is the manipulation of information trusted by a target without the target's awareness so that the target will make decisions against their interest but in the interest of the one conducting information warfare. As a result, it is not clear when information warfare begins, ends, and how strong or destructive it is.

A collage of various elements of information warfare from the first quarter of the 21st century. Clockwise from top left: Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Russian Armed Forces military exercise (2015); a United States Army soldier during virtual training (2009); United States Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki addressing death threats against the U.S. ambassador to Japan (2015); the Brandenburg Gate with the flag of France overlaid following the November 2015 Paris attacks (2015); Anonymous hacktivists protesting Scientology (2008); pamphlets distributed at the 2011 Egyptian revolution and the Revolution of Dignity that are inexplicably identical (2011; 2014)

Information warfare may involve the collection of tactical information, assurance(s) that one's information is valid, spreading of propaganda or disinformation to demoralize or manipulate the enemy and the public, undermining the quality of the opposing force's information, and denial of information-collection opportunities to opposing forces. Information warfare is closely linked to psychological warfare.

The United States Armed Forces' use of the term favors technology and hence tends to extend into the realms of electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, information assurance and computer network operations, attack, and defense. Other militaries use the much broader term information operations which, although making use of technology, focuses on the more human-related aspects of information use, including (amongst many others) social network analysis, decision analysis, and the human aspects of command and control.

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