Cyber War, Netwar, and the Future of Cyberdefense

Cyber War, Netwar, and the Future of Cyberdefense

June 11, 2015
By Robert Brose
Futures & Capability Development
Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Over twenty years ago, Arquilla and Ronfeldt warned that both "Netwar" and "Cyberwar" were coming, and could impact the 21st Century security landscape as significantly as combined arms maneuver warfare had impacted the security landscape of the 20th. Since that time, the concept of “Cyberwar” has received great attention, while the parallel concept of “Netwar” has languished, even as its salience to global security has continued to grow. 

This paper suggests that just as Cyber defense organizations have been required to confront Cyberwar, Netwar organizations, or Netwar-savvy Cyberdefense organizations, are increasingly needed to counter Netwar. Revisiting the Netwar concepts of the 1990s, it offers a 21st century Netwar definition; examines Netwar from a non-western perspective, exploring intersections between Netwar and Russian concepts of ‘Information-Psychological,’ Chinese United Front Theory, and Chinese Legal Warfare, and concludes  with thoughts on unique roles that today’s Cyber defence organizations may play in future Netwar conflict. *


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* The author of this paper is the Lead for Futures and Capability Development at the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).  The author prepared this work as a conceptual thought piece as part of his official U.S. Government duties.  However, this paper should not be interpreted as an official policy, policy statement, or endorsement, either expressed or implied, of ODNI or the U.S. Government.  This paper is a U.S. Government work.  The U.S. Government hereby claims all applicable copyright protection under the laws of any country in which this paper is reproduced, published, or distributed.