Information and information warfare primer

This is really just a short brain dump of the basics to get started thinking about information warfare in a non-US way. Yes, that means Russian, Chinese, South African, Australian, etc. approach. It may come as a surprise to many, but information warfare has always been more and better researched by those that do not commandeer the world’s biggest military.

First of all we need to start with proper definitions of data, information, and knowledge.

Typical definition is that data magically transforms into information and that assemblage of information turns into knowledge. For the visual learners:

However, the definition of information warfare is that information is both a weapon as well as the target. In the above definition it is nigh impossible to see how that would work. We can affect the data, but the transformation of data into information is unknown and the details of that transformation are appropriately hazy, typically saying that the difference between data and information is that information makes sense to the recipient.

Which is why Boisot’s lesser known definitions of information, data, and knowledge are used in information warfare:

Using Boisot’s definitions we can see that information warfare can affect information at any stage.

Data can be directly affected wherever it is stored. Typically this is the highly technical part of information warfare.

Knowledge can be (in)directly altered through psychological operations, propaganda, (denial of) access to data, change in social environment, peer pressure, etc.

Information itself is a product of application of knowledge to data, so any change to either or both of the factors will affect it.