Cyber Warfare

Richards, Julian (2014) Cyber Warfare. Oxford Bibliographies.

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Since the mid-1990s, discussion around the prospect of cyber war has become an increasingly hot topic. Many countries now place defense against cyber attacks at the highest level of priority in their national security strategies. The normative view of the threat is that, for those countries with a high level of dependence on information technology and networked infrastructure, a major cyber attack has the potential to level the playing field of military capability to devastating effect, whether it emanates from a hostile state or a non-state actor such as a terrorist group. Events such as the cyber attacks against Estonian networks in 2007 have been seized upon by many as early salvoes in the new global cyber war. Critical perspectives, however, suggest that cyber activity is fundamentally different from activity in the physical world, and cyber attacks cannot be classified as acts of war as such. There is further suspicion that the level of threat has been overly militarized when its civil dimensions may be more important, and that military and corporate interest groups may be hypersecuritizing the threat for their own gain. Most of the analysis has been conducted in the dominant military power and one of the most network-dependent countries in the world, the US. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the normative views of the military cyber threat point the finger squarely at China and, to a lesser extent, Russia, suggesting a new Cold War. Throughout the debate, most accept that cyber threats are real and are growing in complexity and potential impact. Analyzing the nature of cyber threat in the military realm delivers a number of complexities. Much has been written about the legal aspects of “acts of war”, both from offensive and defensive perspectives, and how existing domestic and international regulation may be poorly designed to deal with cyber attacks. Governance of cyber capabilities and cyber defences is proving to be a complicated affair, cutting across traditional boundaries of public/private, civil/military and national/international. How to deliver deterrence in a cyber context has been considered extensively, with parallels often being drawn with the rise of the nuclear threat in the twentieth century. It is recognized in this fast-moving subject area that analysis of case studies of what may constitute cyber attacks will be important. These are examined from the perspectives of both specific incidents in space and time; and of specific technologies being used and how to counter them. Generally, cyber war is proving to be a very interdisciplinary subject, spanning across technical, legal, sociological and political realms. This makes it a vibrant new subject, but also a challenging one for academia, since the subject does not very easily sit within a single identifiable department. Within the general domain of Security Studies, most of the socio-political analysis has been rooted either in conflict studies, and especially the changing nature of postmodern conflict; or in securitization theory, and the manner in which the threat is emerging from political discourse. But these are not the only directions from which the subject is being, or should be approached.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: security, war, warfare, international relations, cyber, technology
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Economics
Depositing User: Julian Richards
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2019 15:09
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2019 15:09

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