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09 October 2007

Electronic attack and advanced denial and deception in new contexts

The technical boffins over at O’Reilly Radar have highlighted an interesting potential scenario, first put forth by Aviation Week, to explain the apparent failure of the Syrian air defense network during last month’s air strikes by Israel.

This is not the first time that public reporting has emerged discussing the potential applications of sophisticated EW techniques in suppressing adversary air defense networks. One can recall similar speculative stories coming out in the initial days of major combat operations of OIF in 2003.

What makes this interesting is the boffins’ discussion of engineering new public networks to defeat these kinds of attacks in the context of other, civil applications. One can easily understand the desire to do so in order to protect the integrity of wide-scale surveillance networks such as London’s ring of steel. There are less obvious applications in assuring the reliability of monitoring systems which do not rely on even such unambiguous elements as video feeds – perhaps large scale environmental monitoring programs? Given the research dollars flowing towards theories of climate change, one can easily see the potential motivations for manipulation of sensors and associated data streams at the source, in order to avoid the appearance of bias in later analysis.

These approaches will rapidly scale beyond their original military context as widely implemented sensors systems come into more common civil use. One can easily picture such efforts directed against GPS based highway toll and use monitoring systems, for example, or against other RFID or cellular population density measurements. (Persistent virtual worlds have already proven the potential benefits to retail and other establishments from manipulating such “popularity” measurements based on presence related data. The real world would be no different.)

The Wizard’s War is always with us. It just grows more interesting over time.

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