The Damoclean sword of offensive cyber: Policy uncertainty and collective insecurity

Christian Leuprecht, Joseph Szeman, David B. Skillicorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Cyberspace is a new domain of operation, with its own characteristics. Cyber weapons differ qualitatively from kinetic ones: They generate effects by non-kinetic means through information, technology, and networks. Their properties, opportunities, and constraints are comparable to the qualitative difference between conventional and nuclear weapons. New weapons and their target sets in a new domain raise a series of unresolved policy challenges at the domestic, bilateral, and international levels about deterrence, attribution, and response. They also introduce new risks: uncertainty about unintended consequences, expectations of efficacy, and uncertainty about both the target’s and the international community’s response. Cyber operations offer considerable benefits for states to achieve strategic objectives both covertly and overtly. However, without a strategic framework to contain and possibly deter their use, make state and non-state behavior more predictable in the absence of reciprocal norms, and limit their impact, an environment where states face persistent attacks that nonetheless fall below the threshold of armed conflict presents a policy dilemma that reinforces collective insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-407
Number of pages26
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jul 2019

Fingerprint

weapon
conventional weapon
uncertainty
nuclear weapon
deterrence
virtual reality
attribution
information technology

Cite this

@article{f04fd597395f4de099547567642466c7,
title = "The Damoclean sword of offensive cyber: Policy uncertainty and collective insecurity",
abstract = "Cyberspace is a new domain of operation, with its own characteristics. Cyber weapons differ qualitatively from kinetic ones: They generate effects by non-kinetic means through information, technology, and networks. Their properties, opportunities, and constraints are comparable to the qualitative difference between conventional and nuclear weapons. New weapons and their target sets in a new domain raise a series of unresolved policy challenges at the domestic, bilateral, and international levels about deterrence, attribution, and response. They also introduce new risks: uncertainty about unintended consequences, expectations of efficacy, and uncertainty about both the target’s and the international community’s response. Cyber operations offer considerable benefits for states to achieve strategic objectives both covertly and overtly. However, without a strategic framework to contain and possibly deter their use, make state and non-state behavior more predictable in the absence of reciprocal norms, and limit their impact, an environment where states face persistent attacks that nonetheless fall below the threshold of armed conflict presents a policy dilemma that reinforces collective insecurity.",
keywords = "collective security, cyber operations, cyber-attack, Cyberwarfare, hybrid warfare, security dilemma",
author = "Christian Leuprecht and Joseph Szeman and Skillicorn, {David B.}",
year = "2019",
month = "7",
day = "3",
doi = "10.1080/13523260.2019.1590960",
language = "English",
volume = "40",
pages = "382--407",
journal = "Contemporary Security Policy",
issn = "0144-0381",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "3",

}

The Damoclean sword of offensive cyber : Policy uncertainty and collective insecurity. / Leuprecht, Christian; Szeman, Joseph; Skillicorn, David B.

In: Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 40, No. 3, 03.07.2019, p. 382-407.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Damoclean sword of offensive cyber

T2 - Policy uncertainty and collective insecurity

AU - Leuprecht, Christian

AU - Szeman, Joseph

AU - Skillicorn, David B.

PY - 2019/7/3

Y1 - 2019/7/3

N2 - Cyberspace is a new domain of operation, with its own characteristics. Cyber weapons differ qualitatively from kinetic ones: They generate effects by non-kinetic means through information, technology, and networks. Their properties, opportunities, and constraints are comparable to the qualitative difference between conventional and nuclear weapons. New weapons and their target sets in a new domain raise a series of unresolved policy challenges at the domestic, bilateral, and international levels about deterrence, attribution, and response. They also introduce new risks: uncertainty about unintended consequences, expectations of efficacy, and uncertainty about both the target’s and the international community’s response. Cyber operations offer considerable benefits for states to achieve strategic objectives both covertly and overtly. However, without a strategic framework to contain and possibly deter their use, make state and non-state behavior more predictable in the absence of reciprocal norms, and limit their impact, an environment where states face persistent attacks that nonetheless fall below the threshold of armed conflict presents a policy dilemma that reinforces collective insecurity.

AB - Cyberspace is a new domain of operation, with its own characteristics. Cyber weapons differ qualitatively from kinetic ones: They generate effects by non-kinetic means through information, technology, and networks. Their properties, opportunities, and constraints are comparable to the qualitative difference between conventional and nuclear weapons. New weapons and their target sets in a new domain raise a series of unresolved policy challenges at the domestic, bilateral, and international levels about deterrence, attribution, and response. They also introduce new risks: uncertainty about unintended consequences, expectations of efficacy, and uncertainty about both the target’s and the international community’s response. Cyber operations offer considerable benefits for states to achieve strategic objectives both covertly and overtly. However, without a strategic framework to contain and possibly deter their use, make state and non-state behavior more predictable in the absence of reciprocal norms, and limit their impact, an environment where states face persistent attacks that nonetheless fall below the threshold of armed conflict presents a policy dilemma that reinforces collective insecurity.

KW - collective security

KW - cyber operations

KW - cyber-attack

KW - Cyberwarfare

KW - hybrid warfare

KW - security dilemma

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85063568141&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85063568141&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/13523260.2019.1590960

DO - 10.1080/13523260.2019.1590960

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85063568141

VL - 40

SP - 382

EP - 407

JO - Contemporary Security Policy

JF - Contemporary Security Policy

SN - 0144-0381

IS - 3

ER -