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Title: Information Warfare
Author: Michael Erbschloe
Publisher: Osborne/McGraw-Hill
Copyright: 2001
ISBN: 0-072-13260-4
Pages: 320
Price: $29.99
Rating: 83%
Michael Erbschloe is a security expert and information technology specialist. In Information Warfare he writes about different strategies of using information warfare to topple a government, military operation, or commercial sector, and the impact of just such an information warfare attack. It starts by placing you in the right context when discussing information warfare, which is essentially large-scale military operations, without guns or bombs. While the book does discuss the actual toppling strategies, as the subtitle "How to Survive Cyber Attacks" might indicate, the book is more about examining the impact of attacks and ensuring survival, and not the technical details of the actual execution.

The book starts with a look at ten different strategies of information warfare. These include such large scale operations as offensive ruinous warfare, where a military attacks and destroys strategic military and industrial operations (think US vs. Iraq), to the less sophisticated amateur rogue behavior where an individual or small group attacks an aspect of the information infrastructure, like a denial of services (DOS) attack over the Internet, making it unusable. A look at possible targets is explored and an impact assessment of taking out each of the systems is offered. A second impact, that of the economic variety, is also offered, showing how the different scenarios affect organizations and industry sectors.

There's a realistic doomsday scenario described by the author, dubbed Pearl Harbor 2 (PH2), where a group of ten strategically trained hackers can disrupt $1 trillion (US) of economic activities over a sustained period. Offering day-by-day details of the first three weeks of the scenario, you should find much of the details familiar, like using email viruses for the initial outbreak. Overall, a well thought out scenario, and not all that too far fetched these days.

The book also contains information about defending a national government against foreign information warfare threats. Using the United States as a sample, organizations responsible for information warfare are identified and you're asked to rate the United States preparedness. This is also where the corporate perspective of the effects of information warfare is explored, in addition to the military perspective.

The conclusion of many of the book's chapters includes a call for action. In most cases, these actions aren't tasks that you as an individual can do. Instead, they provide areas where government or private companies need to adjust policy. While an individual can initiate the changes, in most cases, going beyond the initial telephone call or email requires getting other more specialized people involved. For instance, Chapter 2 describes how the insurance company needs to alter policies so that private companies aren't stuck with the bill after a successful disruption of service. While you could make harassing telephone calls until the suggested changes were made, the likelihood of one task leading directly to the other happening would be slim.

The primary focus of the book seems to be in exploring the effect of information warfare on governments and military operations. There is but a single chapter on the defensive operations for a private commercial entity. Yes, there are discussions of large-scale industrial-level efforts that can be performed, but if you are looking for what specifically your company can do in the wake of the new world environment, that isn't what this book is for. If you happen to own an island in the Pacific, where the survival of its government is of utmost importance, and you have a national army to help with the execution of a plan, this book is definitely for you. More realistically though, the book would be of interest to the individual looking to understand what could happen through information warfare and how you can help improve the disaster preparedness of your company.

John Zukowski, provides strategic Java consulting with JZ Ventures, Inc. through objective commentary on Java-related technologies, mentoring, training and curriculum development, technical editing, and software architecture and development. He received a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Northeastern University and an M.S. in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.