What is an Information Warfare Officer?

Information Warfare OfficerIn a world where the Internet plays a significant role in national security and global commerce, the role of an information warfare officer is perhaps one of the most important positions in the United States military, according to the Navy. The position, primarily filled by those in the United States Navy, focuses on the security of American data systems as well as new exploits that might grant the military access to unsecured systems in countries around the world. It’s a controversial role for today’s military professionals, but one that is increasingly important as modern warfare moves off the physical battlefield and into data centers, server farms, corporate officers, government data systems, and other crucial areas of information storage.

Playing Defense: What the Information Officer Does for Domestic Data

The information warfare officer’s role is primarily one of defensive work: That means they’re more likely to focus on keeping American data safe and secure than they are to break into international data systems of America’s enemies and opponents. To that end, information warfare involves a great deal of systems monitoring. While not the most exciting part of the position, this will see IWOs consistently watch American data systems and monitor for any suspicious activity. They’ll look for repeated attempts to hack the server by using common exploits, and they’ll monitor for things like denial of service attacks. If any of these attacks is detected, they’ll begin to determine where the attack is coming from and who is responsible.

IWOs are also responsible for proactively securing American data centers and locking down government information. They do this by implementing encryption and cryptography skills that are taught to them as part of military training for this position. Their goal is to make sure that, even if a foreign enemy does hack American servers and obtain sensitive information, it will simply be impossible to actually read that information and make it into anything useful for enemy offensives. Their routine network security work will also help to lock out the enemy, keeping data safe and minimizing the effectiveness of hacking attempts launched for foreign opposition or domestic hackers.

Going on the Offense: Exploiting Foreign Systems May Be Required

Though it’s not the most significant part of the job, information warfare officers may be required to find common vulnerabilities in foreign systems. They’ll then use these vulnerabilities to exploit security holes and gain access to foreign intelligence or other information, as long as it’s essential to the nature of either information or literal warfare. Though ethically nefarious, this practice has been used in the past by IWOs and has actually yielded some significant American intelligence that has changed the nature of some literal battles in major conflicts abroad.

In order to understand how to perform these services “on offense,” IWOs will be trained by the military to identify security holes and leverage common exploits. Their work will be overseen by more advanced military leadership to ensure that it’s limited in scope and exploits only the information needed to gain crucial intelligence for combat purposes.

Related Resource: Officer Training School

A Crucial Position for American Defense and Combat

The IWO is an increasingly important part of American military operations, since these professionals have the training needed to save American data from compromise while changing the course of foreign combat. For this reason, the information warfare officer position is one of the fastest-growing and most popular in the Navy and other branches of military service.