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Publication Date

5-1-2014

Abstract

In their new book The Second Machine Age Work: Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee note that there is often a productivity lag following the introduction of new technologies to an industry. This lag exists because while the new technology offers potentially revolutionary gains in productivity and efficiency, it often takes time to develop and implement the business practices most capable of harnessing the power of the new technology and to phase out old practices based on suddenly obsolete technologies. The U.S. Navy is currently undergoing just such a productivity lag with regards to “cyber warfare.” The potential advantage of employing cyber capabilities to accomplish operational objectives is apparent after even a cursory glance at headlines from the past two years. Secure databases have been raided, vital information continues to be compromised at an alarming rate, industrial production has been directly attacked by malware, and new vulnerabilities in critical systems across the world are discovered daily. It is clear that there are actors, state-funded or otherwise, working alone and collectively, that are capable of wielding immense power in our digital age. However, it is not yet clear how the Navy should best integrate cyber capabilities into existing operational frameworks and sufficiently educate military personnel as to the cyber capabilities that have combined to form an important new dimension of modern warfare. This article argues that, for the Navy to effectively harness the tools of cyber warfare and make best use of the personnel who develop and employ those tools, two things must occur.

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