Beyond Information Warfare 2: Fortress Mentality That Doesn’t Work

Winn Schwartau is listing drawbacks of generally adapted defensive postures and dwells on the concept of weaponization with regard to new technology.

Inefficient defensive postures

Inefficient defensive postures

Defensive postures were initially set up by US military. And it was based upon the model developed in the 1970s, and effectively it said: “We’re going to build big walls around our computers to kick the bad guys out.” And that was the war network. We can dial in on our 300-baud modems, and some of us may remember: when we could download 4 pictures, it was a good night.

So they developed a concept of fortress mentality: “Keep the bad guys out!” The argument in the early days was: “How do you have anything working if you’re not connected?” Another argument was: “You have a chocolate shop on Main Street. Do you want the bad guys in your store? You don’t want the bad guys in your store, do you, right?” And we were: “What about a chocolate-loving bad guy? Your goal is to sell chocolate, so you want the bad guys in, if they buy chocolate. And how do you determine whether they’re a good guy or a bad guy before they rob you?”

That fortress mentality is not going to work, especially with what we’re all trying to achieve today. And this was the mindset, and it still largely is. According to my DOD friend, the problems that they had 25 years ago are exactly the same today. Things are not getting any better at all.

Getting asymmetric as a strategy

Getting asymmetric as a strategy

We’re starting to look at history. I’ve always been a history buff about when things got asymmetric. I guess, mustard gas – World War I, the A-bomb in World War II, when we actually got asymmetric for alleged good reason, whether you believe it or not, it was certainly an asymmetric move at the time.

As we moved to the unipolar world we thought it was going to be this peace everywhere. We scaled down everything, saying: “Peace on Earth now. We won,” which is clearly a massive, massive error, because the whole concept of waging war on the Internet was unknown to most people. They couldn’t grasp the concept of warfare being in that domain.

And again, we were right, they were wrong; and unfortunately, we’re all suffering. And it becomes an issue of capabilities, in my mind. I don’t care about motivations, because I can assume very easily the spectrum of motivations, from peaceful to the truly, totally, completely evil, dark, whatever you want on this side of the spectrum; then everything else is going to be in the middle. It’s about the capabilities in an open source world. And that’s where we are and why we’re sort of in the mess we’re in today.

Weaponization of technologies

Weaponization of technologies

I got interested very early in the concept of weaponization (see right-hand image). And we look at the history of technology, and we can go back thousands of years. Bronze was a great technology that meant for good, and we adapted it for bad. We continuously adapted new technologies and weaponized them one way or another.

So we keep weaponizing, and people keep introducing technologies in the hope that they’re not going to get weaponized. All of these things we are too familiar with, the kind of cool technology that came along, and how it’s continuously been adapted for bad stuff.

So, new technologies: was cryptography ever able to be used in a bad guy mechanism, originally out of the US? And it was the only technology, other than nuclear weapon that was completely classified by the DOD and the military establishments, because we owned that domain. And then open source came along, and it opened up this whole world of potential anonymity, disguising of data, where the private citizens could actually participate and do things that, prior to the data generated earlier, were completely owned and operated by government. So, that was a very fundamental change in the relationship between government, military and private sector around the world.

Asymmetry with modern technology

Asymmetry with modern technology

We kept developing more and more technology. GPS was originally developed as a military technology, and how many of us don’t have GPS on us right now? Probably not one person in this room. Can the bad guys use it? Yes. Do they use it? Yes. Do we have a defense against it? The only thing we can do currently is change the accuracy of the GPS signal. We can change it from 10 feet to 100 feet to 1000 feet, which means aircrafts then have a whole different system of takeoff and landing than the one that they currently do, because they’re relying on the same sort of stuff. Satellite reconnaissance – I don’t see too many people here with the aluminum hats on, but we all know that the NSA is listening in on our thoughts, because they have this technology that they got from aliens from Area 51.

Read previous: Beyond Information Warfare: Winn Schwartau on Attack Mindset Methodology

Read next: Beyond Information Warfare 3: Technology Weaponization

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