Conquest in Cyberspace
National Security and Information Warfare
The global Internet has served primarily as an arena for peaceful commerce. Some analysts have become concerned that cyberspace could be used as a potential domain of warfare, however. Martin C. Libicki argues that the possibilities of hostile conquest are less threatening than these analysts suppose. It is in fact difficult to take control of other people's information systems, corrupt their data, and shut those systems down. Conversely, there is considerable untapped potential to influence other people's use of cyberspace, as computer systems are employed and linked in new ways over time. The author explores both the potential for and limitations to information warfare, including its use in weapons systems and in command-and-control operations as well as in the generation of "noise." He also investigates how far "friendly conquest" in cyberspace extends, such as the power to persuade users to adopt new points of view. Libicki observes that friendly conquests can in some instances make hostile conquests easier or at least prompt distrust among network partners. He discusses the role of public policy in managing the conquest and defense of cyberspace and shows how cyberspace is becoming more ubiquitous and complex.