Sunday, October 26, 2008

Air Force Wants 'Freedom to Attack' Online

By Noah Shachtman EmailOctober 24, 2008 | 12:43:00 PMCategories: Info War  

Gone are the days when the Air Force pledged to "dominate" cyberspace. Now, the flyboys just want "freedom of action" online. Oh, and the ability to deceive foes, and cyberstrike enemies at will.

That's according to a draft document, "Cyberspace Operations -- Air Force Doctrine Document 2-11," obtained by Inside Defense. “Freedom of action... can be seen as freedom from attack and freedom to attack,” the paper states. But, it adds, “The size and complexity of the domain and the extensive collection of networks... can make freedom of action difficult and perhaps elusive.”

For years, the Air Force has been trying to ramp up its network war plans. But the service has had trouble deciding exactly what it wants those cyber battle plans to be. In 2005, the Air Force changed its mission statement to read, "As Airmen, it is our calling to dominate Air, Space, and Cyberspace." Then the service announced a far-reaching effort to set up a "Cyber Command," responsible for that dominance. But by August of this year, that project was put on hold, after it became painfully obvious that no one was really sure what the new command would really do (or even how to define the term "cyber.") Now, those network warriors will fall under the purview of Air Force Space Command.

 

According to Inside Defense , the Air Force's new, 70-page document uses an awfully broad definition of what could be considered cyber, "touching on everything from bombs against enemy network nodes to radar-jamming aircraft, computer firewalls and fake e–mails to terrorist operatives." Even "rapid software development" and "psychological operations" are counted as components of information warfare.

Such operations could include “spoofing” enemy command and control systems to “deceive the adversary about friendly intentions.” Airmen also could jam crucial enemy equipment under the guise of seemingly unrelated, natural events. “Using our knowledge of space and terrestrial weather, we can mask our spoofing with ostensible natural conditions such as lightning strikes,” the document reads...

If airmen know the terrorist receives instructions through the Internet, they could “destroy, disrupt and/or exploit” the Internet link. If the terrorist’s e-mail address is known, officials could “send him an e-mail message to influence his behavior.” Finally, if airmen know the format in which the instructions are presented, they could “send him false taskings that look authentic,” the document reads.

Sounds like a plan.

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