Commando News Spring17



Cyberspace in Peace and War

Martin Libicki, Naval Institute Press

Annapolis, Maryland, 2016

Reviewed by Jim Truscott

This book is most informative about the potential

transformation of warfare across the continuum of

peace time friction and kinetic conflict, and it goes

well beyond the realm of the computer power user

into a high classified and speculative space. The

author draws on much material from previously

published (by him) RAND reports and the treatise is

in five major sections consisting of foundations,

policies, operations, strategies and norms. It is a

highly technical read and by necessity it introduces

much new terminology which requires readers to

adapt to language like advanced persistent threats

(APT), new concepts like the ‘zero-day vulnerability’

in commercial software before patching can rectify

faults, and nuclear notions of ‘mutually assumed

disruption (MAD).’ There are a myriad of topics and

many current cyber warfare examples under the

themes of disruption, corruption and disruption. It is

the type of book that will see many new versions as

the Internet of Things takes shape, especially as it is

USA-centric in focus and there must be an Australian

approach which is not reliant on our American allies.

was released by Snowden about the National

Security Agency’s (NSA) capabilities. The author

highlights debate over the ‘Las Vegas rules’ that

treat cyberspace as a separate venue of conflict and

not subject to the Laws of Armed Conflict. It high -

lights the obvious need for consideration of cross–

domain (land, sea, air and space) strategy and its

escalation into kinetic warfare, regardless of the

rules that may apply.

The conclusion about whether the world will be

less violent with cyberwar than without it, is thought

provoking. Hence this book is a must read for every

officer in Australia’s Military high command and

other Government departments who are

responsible for national security in peace and war.

One thing is certain, the hackers, especially those

that are government sponsored, will already have it

on their e-book shelves.

I found it intriguing to read that as a rule, stop -

ping a cyberattack requires detecting it as such, and

that there are those organizations who know that

they being attacked and there are those who do not

know that they are being attacked in peace and in

war. It is fascinating that cyberwar is described as

the most serious near-term threat to the USA and

the fact that the US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM)

is under their Strategic Command begs the reader

to ask why Australia does not have such a Cyber

Command. Is the Australian Signals Directorate

enough? It reminded me of our own cyber warrior

and filibuster attacks when I was in the SAS to

successfully put a virus in the Battlefield Command

Support System that was fielded by 1st Brigade in

Exercise Phoenix in the Northern Territory in 1996.

The author explains that one of the many cruxes

in developing and executing capability is being able

to actually ‘weaponize’ cyber warfare. Hence it is

more a textbook for academics and strategists and

less so for cyber warfare practitioners especially as

no one really boasts about cyberwarfare capability,

with the partial exception of the USA through what

COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition 11 I September 2017 47

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