Staring Down the Digital Fulda Gap Path Dependency as a Cyber Defense Vulnerability

by   Jan Kallberg, et al.

Academia, homeland security, defense, and media have accepted the perception that critical infrastructure in a future cyber war cyber conflict is the main gateway for a massive cyber assault on the U.S. The question is not if the assumption is correct or not, the question is instead of how did we arrive at that assumption. The cyber paradigm considers critical infrastructure the primary attack vector for future cyber conflicts. The national vulnerability embedded in critical infrastructure is given a position in the cyber discourse as close to an unquestionable truth as a natural law. The American reaction to Sept. 11, and any attack on U.S. soil, hint to an adversary that attacking critical infrastructure to create hardship for the population could work contrary to the intended softening of the will to resist foreign influence. It is more likely that attacks that affect the general population instead strengthen the will to resist and fight, similar to the British reaction to the German bombing campaign Blitzen in 1940. We cannot rule out attacks that affect the general population, but there are not enough adversarial offensive capabilities to attack all 16 critical infrastructure sectors and gain strategic momentum. An adversary has limited cyberattack capabilities and needs to prioritize cyber targets that are aligned with the overall strategy. Logically, an adversary will focus their OCO on operations that has national security implications and support their military operations by denying, degrading, and confusing the U.S. information environment and U.S. cyber assets.


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