When Do Information Operations Become Cyber Warfare?


By Kevin Coleman Defense Tech Cyber Warfare Analyst

An interesting question, well more than a question, it was an out and out argument that I got brought into via email last week. I thought this was the perfect venue to address the disagreement. The disagreement centered around the difference between IO (information operations) and CW (cyber warfare).


JP 3-13 defines Information Operations (IO) as - “the integrated employment of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.”

It should be noted that this term and its definition modify the existing term and its definition and are approved for inclusion in the next edition of JP 1-02. Read more here.

At this point there is NO formally accepted definition of cyber warfare. It is hard to believe but no one has come up with a decent answer to this extremely important question. At this point there are no clear and distinct rules for behaviors in the cyber warfare domain. Some believe the Obama administration has purposely delayed a formal definition of cyber war so that a response by the U.S would not be pushed if a cyber event meeting the criteria were to take place.

The question remains – what is the difference, if any, between “cyber warfare” and information operations? Using the IO definition above, we want to hear from you.

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