Revisiting Strategic Cyberwar Theory Reaching Decisive Strategic Outcome

07/16/2020
by   Jan Kallberg, et al.
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Each strategy has a foundation, an overarching way of explaining why things are the way we see them and how to successfully reach our goals. Therefore, strategy is theory based because theory provides an intellectual framework for predicting outcomes leading to the end goal the strategy pursues. This article will present a theory, strategic cyberwar theory, that states that the utility of strategic cyberwar is tied to the likelihood of institutional instability in the targeted nation. In an ideal scenario, the cyber attacks are systematically attacking the targeted adversary institutions triggering the dormant entropy embedded in a nation with weak institutions. This will lead to submission to foreign policy and intent. The current alternative to strategic cyberwar theory is to unsystematically attack the adversary with cyber attacks where exploitation opportunities occur, which is likely to degrade parts of the information infrastructure, but it will not reach any strategic goals. If an adversarial society is unaffected by a cyber conflict, the conflict itself has not reached a decisive outcome, and results only in tit for tat game or stalemate. In strategic cyberwar theory1, the concept is to cyber attack the core of the institutional framework of the adversarial nation in pursuit of destabilization.

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