Gaza Conflict's Shadow 'Cyberwar'

Saranga said his office has long supported new media, recognizing that as technology has changed the definition of war, media coverage of war must change with it.

"War today is not an army versus an army," he said, clarifying that the current situation involves an Israeli army and a terrorist organization that operates under the cover of darkness and infiltrates civilian populations to carry out its attacks.

Because current wars are diverging so significantly from traditional notions of war, "the definition of public diplomacy during times of war has changed as well," Saranga told

Outlets like Twitter give the Israeli government the opportunity, in real time, to answer specific questions, correct misperceptions and share successes and developments that may not be covered by the mainstream media, he said.

Rewriting the 'Info Ops' Textbook

Zachary Tumin, executive director of the Leadership for a Networked World Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, affirmed that social media and digital technology are turning traditional thinking about military information operations on its head.

"The textbook is going to have to be rewritten," he said. "YouTube … Twitter, these are the kinds of new channels that everyone's going to have to step up and use."

Especially as the boundaries between nation states, rogue states and criminal organizations blur, he said, it's important to craft an approach to information technology that recognizes the newest opportunities and risks.

Referencing the cyberattacks against Georgia's Internet infrastructure during the recent Russia-Georgia conflict, he said that the Internet is wide open to potent risks from nonstate actors who have the power to interrupt the flow of information in and out of countries.

"In the Russia-Georgia cyberwar, we essentially saw nonstate actors essentially darken the Internet for Georgia as a nation," he said.

Key global and domestic infrastructures, such as electronic payment systems, have gone for too long unattended and remain vulnerable to similar attacks. The current conflict in Gaza is additional evidence that security in the cyberdomain is a requirement, he said.

"We don't have a cybersecurity strategy, and we desperately need one," Tumin said. "It can't come too soon."

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