Map of Europe in 1360.

History of Cyberwar

Military-Industrial Espionage

The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive warned of Internet activity by foreign intelligence entities back in 1997. BNA Daily Report for Executives, 6 January 1997, pg A15.

The CIA named countries thought in 1999 to be involved in industrial espionage or offensive information warfare, and noted that several had been providers of Y2K fixes to U.S. firms (Network World 13 Sep 1999 pg 10), see this table.

Country Industrial
Offensive IW
Major US Y2K
fix provider
Bulgaria No Yes Limited
People's Republic
of China
Yes Yes No
Cuba Yes Limited No
France Yes Yes No
India Yes Yes Yes
Iraq Yes Yes No
Ireland No No Yes
Israel Yes Likely Yes
Japan No Yes Likely
Pakistan No No Yes
Philippines No No Yes
Russia No Yes Yes
South Korea No Yes Yes

Early Viruses and Hacking

NATO revealed that the Anti-Smyser-1 virus infected systems at its Pristina, Kosovo facility early in 2000. Affected systems mailed copies of a nine-page classified document detailing NATO rules of engagement for land operations in Kosovo to "random Internet users' mailboxes" — SC Magazine, Aug 2000, pg 18. Well, I doubt they were really random, but instead were entries in someone's address list. Who put classified documents on Internet-connected PCs susceptible to viruses??

A group of hackers broke into U.S. Department of Defense computers in the fall of 1997. It was well-publicized, they claimed to have stolen GPS controlling software to sell to terrorists, but DOD said it was just some administrative data.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a group in Eindhoven, Netherlands broke into computers at 34 U.S. military sites and stole information about troop movements, missile capabilities, etc. They offered it to the Iraqis, but they figured it had to be a hoax. London Telegraph, 23 Mar 97.

Early Government and Military Warnings

The DOD urged the naming of an "information czar" and an "information warfare" center within the U.S. intelligence community back in 1997. WSJ, 6 January 1997, pg B2.

Some people in DOD, or working for the defense/intel community, think future conflicts will be the domain of digital terrorists. Mafia-based states (like many in the ex-USSR), quasi-governmental organizations (IRA, ETA, HAMAS), or followers of warlords (Somalia, Chechnya, Myanmar) could launch highly disruptive attacks in which modern states would be at a disadvantage. AWST, 27 Apr 1998, 54-56.

As early as 1997:

The article, "Nation's 'Infosec Gaps' Given New Scrutiny Post-Sept 11", is quite realistic and practical as information warfare material goes, AWST, 28 Jan 2002, pg 59.

Offensive Information Warfare / Information Operations

The USAF formed the 609th Information Warfare Squadron in early 1996AWST, 29 April 1996, pg 52.

The USAF Information Warfare Team was formed at Rome AFB in 1996. Director of CIA John Deutch said, "We have evidence that a number of countries around the world are developing the doctrine, strategies, and tools to conduct information attacks." AWST, 12 Aug 1996, pg 65-66.

In 2007-2008 the USAF made all sorts of conflicting claims about what it was going to do. Looks like political turf battles...

What they call information warfare (IW) or information operations (IO) is out there, but good luck finding much in the open literature. Just a few brief mentions, like a few sentences in AWST 12 May 2003 pp 62-63. Also be aware that the U.S. Department of Defense uses "information operations" to mean offensive information warfare, including denial of service attacks against data and network connectivity, and more subtly, rendering data or network connectivity worthless by degrading the other side's confidence on it. But at the same time, the Central Intelligence Agency instead uses "information operations" to mean obtaining data statically stored on systems or transiting networks, in order to analyze it and obtain an understanding of the other side's plans.

More recently, see Digits of Doom, in AWST, 24 Sep 2007, pg 74, suggesting that the U.S. military had started attacking jihadist web sites in the preceding few months. The article mentions:

In other stories:

"Network-Centric Warfare" — Terminology with a Convoluted History

Much depends on just what you mean by "network-centric warfare".

Initially (maybe 1996-2000) it seemed to be used recklessly, and was the domain of much wild speculation (science fiction analogies) and dangerous enthusiasm (controlling warships with Windows NT 4.0).

After maybe 2000 or so it seems to have really been working, but by then it really should have been called something more like "information-centric" or "communication-centric" warfare.

The point is the sharing of information and how that information is used, not just the fact that there's a networked graphical interface.

The Yorktown Failure — The Blue-Water Blue Screen of Death

In September 1997, the USS Yorktown, a Aegis-class missile cruiser, was left dead in the water for close to 3 hours because of a cascade of failures started by a Windows NT 4.0 application that didn't prevent a divide-by-zero error. There's a design error here — who made NT a vital part of a warship, and who designed an architecture that allowed the failure cascade? Google finds lots of discussion, ask for:
september 1997 yorktown windows
Also see the Military and Aerospace Electronics article: "Navy Postmortem Tries to Pinpoint What Went Wrong With the 'Smart Ship'", in Military and Aerospace Electronics, March 2001, pp 1,5.

Early enthusiasm for "Network-Centric Warfare"

"What is Information Warfare" is available from the Government Printing Office (by Martin C. Libicki, August 1995, National Defense University series, G.P.O. 1996-405-201:40005). Much enthusiasm and anecdotes, light on technical facts and realism. Note the section where he discusses William Gibson's science-fiction novels and the movie "TRON" as possible models! Well, it's out there, and some people may consider it important.

Two government references that look better are NIST Special Publication 800-12 and NIST Special Publication 800-14.

"Network-Centric Warfare", Vice Adm Arthur K. Cebrowski and John J. Garstka, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Jan 1998, pp 28-35. At least for the USNI publications, this seems to be the article that kicked off the craze.

"IT-21 Intranet Provides Big 'Reachbacks'", Rear Adm Robert M. Nutwell, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Jan 1998, pp 36-38. A pretty good overview.

"Moving the Navy Into the Information Age", Cmdr Michael S. Loescher, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Jan 1999, pp 40-44. He seems to have watched way too much "Star Trek", as the article actually suggests working on "cloaking" and "shielding" as in that sci-fi TV show, plus "omniscience" and "telepathy".

"The Power of e-Sailors", Vice Adm James R. Fitzgerald, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Jul 1999, pp 62-63. A decent overview, at the expense of yet another unneeded neologism...

Early Skepticism and Caution Regarding "Network-Centric Warfare"

"Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts", Lt Cmdr Eric Johns, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Apr 1998, pp 74-76.

"The Seven Deadly Sins of Network-Centric Warfare", Thomas P. M. Barnett, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Jun 1999, pp 36-39.

"The Smart Ship is Not the Answer", U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Jun 1998, pp 61-64. "Using Windows NT, which is known to have some failure modes, on a warship is similar to hoping that luck will be in our favor."

"Network-Centric: Is It Worth the Risk?", Cmdr William K. Lescher, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Jul 1999, pp 58-63.

A very useful and more recent overview of NCW in its broader and more mature sense is a series of articles in AWST, 27 Jan 2003, pp 37-59.