The information revolution is leading to the rise of network forms of organization, with unusual implications for how conflicts are conducted. Whilst "cyberwar" refers primarily to information-based military operations designed to disrupt an adversary, "netwar" relates to lower-intensity social conflict and crime in which the antagonists are organized more as sprawling "leaderless" networks than as tight-knit hierarchies. Many terrorists, transnational criminals, fundamentalists, and ethno-nationalists are developing netwar capabilities. A new generation of revolutionaries and militant radicals is also emerging, with new doctrines, strategies, and technologies that support their reliance on network forms of organization. Strong netwar actors will have not only organizational, but also doctrinal, technological, and social layers that emphasize network designs. The context of netwar may come to be defined by conflicts between such nonstate actors, acting on their own or as the proxies of states. Traditional notions of war as a sequential process based on massing, maneouvering, and fighting are likely to prove inadequate to cope with a nonlinear landscape of information-age conflicts.
Targets for cyberwar could include air-traffic control systems, power plants, banks and fund transfer systems, in addition to militazry systems dependent on computer enhanced communications. Attacks could notably be focused on public telephone systems.
In the late 1990s, computer hackers began to make attacks on US defence sites.
In 2001, rising tension between the USA and China set off an unsanctioned hacking war.
1. Traditional warfare fits the Western paradigm symbolized by chess, where territory is very important, units are functionally specialized, and operations proceed sequentially until checkmate. Netwar, however, requires a new analytic paradigm, which, we argue, is provided by the Oriental game of Go, where there are no "fronts," offence and defence are often blurred, and fortifications and massing simply provide targets for implosive attacks. Victory is achieved not by checkmate, as there is no king to decapitate, but by gaining control of a greater amount of the "battlespace.
2. The Internet is an unfiltered megaphone for rebels and angry young men. But its success at relaying their messages raises fears tha restrictions will soon follow. Cyberprotest is raging. Every moment, someone's uploading more. Billions of bits and bytes of bilious assaults on the system. Any system. Calls to Action. E-mail for Anarchy. Around the world, the Internet is fanning the flames of discord. Even the smallest band of rebels and the angriest young man can make themselves heard and their dyspepsia known. And they are.
3. The enormous amounts of money spent in the last decades on military hardware, such as tanks, bombers and aircraft carriers, may well be a waste, as the revolution in information storage and dissemination has made those weapons more vulnerable and less necessary than previously. It is now possible to incapacitate an enemy by destroying his computerized control of weaponry and forces, or destroying his perception of that control.
Cyberwarfare demands considerable sophistication which may not be readily available to terrorist forces or hostile governments.