Recently Edward Lucas tweeted a series on the changes in Russian military doctrine, which signified a change away from physical combat and towards information domination in the form not seen since mid-90’s. That Russians always preferred, and are extremely skilled on, the battlefield in the cognitive domain is not new. But this new view of the recently requested new Russian military doctrine (Putin requested a new draft in 2013, having been dissatisfied with the 2010, strictly defensive doctrine that Medvedev signed off) shows just how forcefully information warfare is making a comeback.
Keir Giles’ wrote a good paper that you really should read on the Russian view of the information warfare/operations (cyber warfare) legality. This is a fairly neglected aspect of information warfare studies and is completely ignored by cyber warfare experts in the West, who consider the Western view to be the sole view. It is because they are largely WEIRD. The West is largely in introspection around diversity, where diversity now means that everyone has the same values, shares same culture and is working towards the same goals in the similar fashion.
It doesn’t take much to imagine the consequences of a successful cyber attack. In a future conflict, an adversary unable to match our military supremacy on the battlefield might seek to exploit our computer vulnerabilities here at home. Taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis. The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency. And as we’ve seen in past blackouts, the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill.