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Cyber Warfare: Chapter 3

Cyber Warfare: Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners by J. Andress and S. Winterfeld

Cyber warfare is real. That’s why each Friday I will post a review on this book: Cyber Warfare: Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners, and today I am sharing what I am reading in…

Chapter 3: Cyber Doctrine.

Cyber Warfare Techniques Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners - Book review by Dovell Bonnett of Access Smart.comA doctrine is the foundation for teaching collective, fundamental principles to large groups so that everyone knows what to do in pre-defined situations. The military since armies of ancient times has relied on their doctrines to instill tradition, guidance, tactics, techniques and procedures. Different governments and military branches are now putting this long honored practice to cyberspace. While it was interesting that the authors started out by stating, “The U.S. military does not have a definition for cyber warfare today“, don’t think that a lot of time, work and money isn’t being spent to defend and attack “it”.

One reason that cyber warfare is poorly defined is that what makes up cyber keeps changing. Terms like computer security, information security, network centric warfare, information assurances, information warfare and even cybersecurity have all been used to describe this nebulas network of electrons that are organized in ways that can deliver vital information to one group and not the other. Cyber warfare is just the latest name in vogue. Therefore, these electrons have become the pawns to attack and defend. Remember, in my Chapter 2 observations I stated that cyber warfare is machine vs. machine and that human suffering is collateral damage.

The first step has to be defining what is “Cyber”. The U.S. doctrine understand cyber to be a part of Information Operations where one of the Core Capabilities is Operations Security of Computer Network Operations.  Computer Network Operations is then divided into three tactical objectives: Computer Network Exploitation, Computer Network Attack and Computer Network Defence. Or in other words Espionage, Offense and Defence. So while the battlefield may have changed the strategies and tactics are no different from those of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte or General Petraeus. As a side note, I’m not adding in all the three-letter acronyms loved by the government in this review. After awhile it all becomes too confusing.

The chapter is a fascinating read regarding how our different miliary branches are developing doctrines based upon laws and traditions of previous battlefields, and trying to make them apply to electron behaviour. We also get a glimpse into some doctrines from other nations both friendly and some not so friendly ones. But a doctrine by itself, while interesting, serves no purpose if it can be implemented. That is where a different set of multi-letter acronym organizations come into the picture because they are responsible for Tactics, Techniques and Procedures.

With all the organizational charts, closed-door planning and top-secret research going on, you don’t think other government agencies, politicians and private industry are not going to have their competing clubs? The private and non-military government agencies can’t develop military doctrine but they do influence the doctrine with the Guidance and Directives. Some of these groups include Dept of Homeland Security (DHS), Homeland Security/Presidential Directive (HSPD) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which are a little more familiar to us civilians.

Finally, after all the preparations, theories and paper pushing there has to be training, practice and refining. These are done through either Table Top or Simulations exercises. These exercises are conducted in the federal, military and academic arenas. And while the authors don’t state it, I think we all suspect that some live demonstations have been conducted once or twice by someone or some government.


The authors have done a great job in breaking down the complexity of developing a Cyber Warfare Doctrine. While majority of all the references are to U.S. organizations, branches and institutions the same type of structure is being duplicated in just about every other nation around the world that has a military, politicians and internet connectivity. I do like to think that the Samoans and Fijians are not in this game.