Victory in Cyberspace

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Author: Miguel Alberto Gomez, Center for Security Studies, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland
Email: miguel.gomez@sipo.gess.ethz.ch
Published: May 31, 2017
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijpel.4.1.04

Citation: Gomez, M. A. (2017). Victory in Cyberspace. IAFOR Journal of Politics, Economics & Law, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijpel.4.1.04


Abstract

A review of state-associated incidents in cyberspace over the past decade reveals that over two thirds of these involved actors within the Asia-Pacific, often occurring in the context of politico-economic disputes. These activities, ranging from attempts at espionage to coercion, in all appearance appears to confirm the domain’s increasing strategic value. But upon closer inspection, only half of these have resulted in meeting their political objectives. Moreover, these have involved notable regional powers employing relatively unsophisticated tools and tactics in cyberspace. This challenges the prevailing notion that cyberspace provides an asymmetric advantage for middling and/or weak powers due to its low cost of entry and the increasing technological dependence of targets. With growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific, the need to better understand the strategic utilization of this domain is paramount. In so doing, this paper argues that coercive success in cyberspace is not determined solely by an aggressor’s technological prowess but depends crucially on appropriate force employment and an understanding of the domain’s unique geography. Through the analysis of the Stuxnet operation, the paper demonstrates that careful consideration of these factors may better account for the success or failure of coercion in the domain.

Keywords

cyberspace, strategy, coercion, cyber conflict