Introduction

The Netwar System is a a collection of specifications, software, and doctrines which we believe to be the foundation of a safe, sensible analytical environment for small groups that seek to observe and understand the media phenomena that contribute to the social condition known as Netwar. The blend of real news and disinformation, sourced from both people and personas, requires the right mix of machines and minds in order to defuse it.

The construction of this system had its genesis in the ISR cell HBGary Federal proposed to the Bank of America in late 2010. The Lulzsec Anonymous node tore the company to shreds two months later, releasing 70,000 of their emails. We read all of them and then we began building the parts that seemed to make sense. If you’re curious about that material, Wikileaks made it available on November 29th of 2016 in honor of Barrett Brown‘s release from a four year prison term he served for his reporting on the intrusion into intelligence contractor Stratfor.

https://wikileaks.org/hbgary-emails/

We have benefitted greatly from Coursera’s Social Network Analysis class by Lada Adamic and Matthew Jackson’s Social and Economic Networks: Models and Analysis. Publications such as National Defense University Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization, as well as Joint Special Operations University’s Understanding Clandestine Networks and The Challenge of Virtual Conflicts have provided insight into how hierarchies view network threats, as well as what they miss. Howard Gambrill Clark’s Information Warfare: The Lost Tradecraft is the most recent introduction to our recommended reading bookshelf.

We give an explicit nod to John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt’s seminal work in this field, The Advent of Netwar, in the name we chose for the system. All interested parties should immediately read John Robb’s Brave New War, which provides the best update we’ve seen on this topic. We would not have undertaken organizing and publishing this material without the impetus provided by Peter Pomerantsev‘s special report The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money. When our energy flagged, updates from John Robb’s Global Guerrillas blog got us moving again.

We owe a great debt to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, who gave us the chance to test our methods against ISIS when they were at the peak of their social media campaign. Other institutions and individuals who have contributed prefer to remain anonymous.

Overall, it is our view that the world would run best if societies made decisions based on objective reality, rather than the apocalyptic worldview of ISIS, or the Kremlin’s “Operations Psychological”. We hope that some of you will pick up this simple analytical toolkit and do your part to help drain which ever disinformation swamp troubles you the most. Here are some areas that we cover:

  • Adversary Resistant Computing
  • Adversary Resistant Networking
  • Communications Security
  • Social Media Collection Methods
  • Various Related OSINT Topics
  • Analytical Tradecraft
  • Field Operations Tradecraft