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Is cyber warfare a relevant part of the political agenda of international relations?
With the growing importance of cyberspace and spurt in frequency of cyber-attacks it is gaining strategic value and is increasingly finding greater attention in various policies and planning of governments’ world over. With over two billion people using the internet and a 480% growth in the number since the year 2000 it is now relevant to relook at the previous assumptions and predictions made by academicians and experts and analyse how far have their studies been validated.
Moreover, due to the unique features that differentiate cyberspace and cyber-war from conventional political space and kinetic war, it will be useful to try and predict the future implications they will have on world politics.

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  • Clarke does not apparently consider physical attacks on network infrastructures, such as attacks on computer servers, to be “cyberwarfare.” While thisdistinction may be fair, it is important to note that such attacks could result in similarly grave consequences.From the earliest years of the Internet’s creation, cyberspace has beendistinguished from other types of political space because of threeunique qualities: (i) its ability to mobilize users, particularly ‘‘outsiders’’ including those who have not been easily included in political systems using conventional means; (ii) its ability to quickly provide large quantities of information of uncertain or unregulated quality; and (iii) its ability to shrink distances between users, in some sense rendering conventional physical geography irrelevant.
  • "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace" was an influential early paper on the applicability (or lack thereof) of government on the rapidly growing internet. It was written by John Perry Barlow, a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and published online February 8, 1996 from Davos, Switzerland. It was written primarily in response to the passing into law of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 in the United StatesWho owns it?When does a state become Cyber powerful? Which states are the most Cyber powerful? And Can this power be shared?
  • both stories view cyberspace as anarchic while interpreting the significance and meaning of anarchy differently.The realist view, in particular, has become more coherent as the result of developments tied to the first Gulf War in 1991 and September 11. In addition,as cyberspace’s economic functions have changed, notions of territoriality andcitizenship have also been clarified.
  • 1. Utopians view, the Internet is both a place and a ‘‘space’’—where actors meet in a variety of structured and unstructuredformats to exchange information. Cyberspace is a border-free civil society forming part of ‘‘the world in which we live.’’Pragmatic version- describes cyberspace as an alternate universe created reflexively through human action where the physical world’s old structure with its emphasis on power, identity, and wealth is less relevant.2. Goals of Cyberspace: Utopian : to provide information as a free good which is openly exchanged. Here, cyberspace is described as‘‘apart’’ from traditional politics and operating by different rules and norms. It is as foreign as outer space. Pragmatic : information and information security is a collective good to be upheld by all players in the system through thedevelopment of norms, the ability and will of Internet actors (including individuals, corporations, and states) to police themselves and their activities.
  • The realist view thus stresses that changes in information technology did not create a new entity. It merely caused the militaries to adapt their existing strategies, goals, and methods of warfare. The role of technology was initially identified by Russia in the 1970’s followed by the Chinese and Americans in 1980s.From the 1980s onward, cyberspace was redefined as both an extension of the battlefield and an extension of the marketplace due to the development of e-commerce. And once issues of wealth and wealth-building began to require resolution within cyberspace, one might argue that these inequities made ‘‘war,’’ including cyberwar, inevitable.Cyberspace was thus not a revolutionary space for the subversion of existing power structures within international relations, but instead a field for the overlay of traditional power structures onto this new surface.development of e-commerce as well as the evolving notion that security within cyberspace could be provided privately (either by citizens or by hired moderators answerable to the specific private Internet environment) suggested that while cyberspace might be without a nationality or a gender, it is not without an economic ideology. Cyberspace is capitalist, not socialist, not based on barter or some other system—and by extension, it may be argued, cyberspace also is construed of as ‘‘western’’. The Internet was created in the 1970s to solve the Pentagon problem of how to keep communications lines open during all-out war
  • Might help in asymmetric warfare by allowing a smaller opponent to defeat and deter a larger opponent.cyberspace could be used to disrupt the enemy’s ability to carry out operations. Wars could be won not through the destruction of an opponent’s military forces but rather through rendering them unable or unwilling to fight has been referred to as ‘‘control’’ by the Chinese who cite Sun Tzu as its originator. realist narrative developed over time, categorized many of cyberspace’s unique features—including its amorphous, networked nature; the anonymity which it offers; and the speed and cheapness of transactions which can occur, as dangerous.
  • Stuxnet – 2009 , Suspected to be the work of US and Israel to cripple Iran’s Nuclear program. Highly sophisticated and hence the conclusion that it could not have been built without state support. While it has infected many computers, the virus is relatively harmless unless it detects a specific configuration and brand of controllers and process that are found almost exclusively in nuclear centrifuge plants.China – Taiwan conflict – It is suspected that China has attacked the Taiwan government’s computer infrastructure several times in the past few years. As per the Taiwanese government the attacks intended to paralyze the nations computer systems, steal sensitive govt. information, or preparing computers for future information warfare. China has been unable to launch a kinetic war against Taiwan due to the US presence and because of the fear of hampering its own growth, and hence it might have chosen Cyberwarfare which enables it to maintain anonymity and is cost effective.Chinese hackers launched a series of attacks on the US government websites after an incident of collision of a US EP-3 plane and a Chinese Fighter Jet, which caused the death of the Chinese Pilot.Finally coming to Russian CW against Estonia and Georgia which we will take up as an example to analyse 3 questions.
  • Increased engagement with the West was seen as more beneficial than looking towards Russia and the East. Engagement with the EU and the West would bring immediate aid in the form of financial and technological assistance, where Russia could not supply those incentives.Estonia began to increase relations with Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova with presidential visits and support for their entry into the EU. Estonia also saw an increase in diplomatic relations with Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro, because Estonia sees them as future EU and NATO partners.In 2005 Russia insisted that Estonia celebrate Victory Day on 9 May by attending celebrations in Russia (Kuusik 2006, 69). The Estonian government refused on the grounds that the Soviet Union illegally annexed Estonia in 1940 (Kuusik 2006, 69). This argument was repeated in 2006 (Kuusik 2006, 69).2007. Estonia was working diplomatically to increase its ability to interact with Russia as an equal nation, and achieve its interests. The EU was a tool to do this. This action by Estonia is seen in Russia in a larger context of central European influence. If the Baltic states, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova are absorbed by the EU, Russia would lose the greater part of its ability to affect diplomatic action in central Europe.
  • Estonian information power is closely related to Estonian security. Estonia is one of the few countries in the world to allow voting to occur over the Internet.This willingness demonstrates that Estonia has aggressively embraced the information age. 90 percent of people aged twelve to twenty-four use the Internet, and 58 percent of those aged twenty-five to forty-nine use the Internet in early 2007 (Link 2009, 7-8). 95 percent of Estonian banking transactions were conducted electronically. 90 percent of the population used mobile phones, and 50 percent of parking fees were collected via mobile networks
  • Transportation, Energy, Tourism, and Banking.
  • In the case of Estonia there is no unclassified evidence that shows any sort of cyber espionage took place Estonian Internet users were extremely inconvenienced during the duration of the DDoS, but security workers were able to mitigate the effects and return operations to normalcy within days.In the case of Estonia, several political and government websites were corrupted to display pro Soviet propaganda rather than their true content. corruption was relatively benign in that the only effect was the display of the propaganda. Once the propaganda was removed from the sites, the functioning of the systems remained intact (Toth 2007, 3). This corruption was more a case of cyber graffiti. In Estonia there are no identified cases of the employment of distraction during the attacks in 2007.
  • The Cyber strategy also mentioned about promoting international co-operation aimed at strengthening global cyber security.
  • Russia made efforts in 2007 to weaken the Estonian economy within the six months following the cyber attacks (Woerhel 2007, 4). Russia is the largest provider of oil and the sole provider of natural gas to Estonia (Fabian-Marks 2006, 1). In the six months following the cyber attacks, Russia decided to transit more of its oil exports through its own ports rather than use Estonian ports (Woerhel 2007, 4). Russia also attempted to impose unofficial economic sanctions against Estonia following the cyber attack by reducing the amount of freight traffic from Russia to Estonia and limiting the amount of traffic over a key bridge linking the two countries (Woerhel 2007, 4). These actions do not appear to have significantly affected the Estonian economy for 2007.
  • From this case study we cannot justify the classification of CW as a strategic weapon. CW did have some strategic effects, but none that accomplished the likely strategic intent of the attacker. CW did have some use as a tactical weapon, in that it was adept at creating short-term confusion and friction at the tactical and perhaps operational level.Attackers can use it to bleed their targets continuously and frequently with relatively low costs at their end. But that is possible only if the target has substantially high dependence on information systems.There was a clear intent to achieve strategic political goals in diplomatic, information and economic fronts.The opposite happened.But in spite of all these conclusions what should be noted is that like any other warfare CW too led to a change in the strategies of one of the parties. Estonia formed swift alliances with the West an they in turn promised protection to smaller weaker states. Maybe not from an attackers perspective but from the target nations perspective CW did have a strategic implication . They became more careful and strengthened their defences.
  • 1. In May 2011, The White House released a report which says that "hostile acts in cyberspace" are as much a threat as physical acts. "We reserve the right to use all necessary means," including military, to "defend our nation, our allies, our partners and our interests." It adds, "Certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners." 2. As in the case of Estonia, where later attacks happened from computers located worldwide.3. Can increase the frequency of Conflict4. Weaker actors can engage in cyberwarfare with relatively low costs. The potential devastation resulting from an effective cyber attack on an advanced industrial nation like the United States could be huge. At the same time, if the weaker actor does not have a similarly sophisticated digital infrastructure or economy, a reciprocal attack may not be as effective.5. Many states are hesitant to pursue their political ends throughviolent means. Similarly, states prefer to limit their own casualties during war.Cyberwarfare provides a means of enhancing security and coercing otherswithout causing loss of life to either side.
  • Thus far, the realist argument has implicated cyberspace as both a territorywhich shelters and hides insurgents as well as a crucible which breeds them. Thefinal idea to consider is the way in which cyberspace allows information itself tobe used as a weapon, according to the realist view.
  • Cyberwar

    2. 2. INTRODUCTION • Cyber War – ―Actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purpose of causing damage or disruption‖ - Richard Clarke , former special advisor to the US President • Cyberspace is different • Ability to mobilize users/netizens • Ability to provide large quantity of information • Ability to shrink distances
    3. 3. IS IT REALLY A PLACE? • ―Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.‖ –John Perry Barlow, a Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, 1996
    4. 4. CYBERLIBERALISM VS CYBERREALISM • Both acknowledge cyberspace as a new type of territory which is anarchic. • However they differ in : • Understanding of agent-structure debate • Likelihood of regulating action within Cyber space • Whether it represents ungoverned or merely unclaimed territory
    5. 5. THE LIBERAL VIEW • The two strands • The Utopian and • The Regulators • Both are optimistic about: • cyberspace’s democratizing and liberating potential • The actor learning in a peaceful and progressive direction • However, utopians see cyberspace’s development as an organic growth process, while regulators believe its happening due to international cooperation.
    6. 6. UTOPIAN VS. REGULATORS UTOPIANS REGULATORS Part of the ―World we live in‖ Alternate Universe Information as a free good Information as a collective good.
    7. 7. THE REALIST VIEW • Cyberspace is a technological change in the existing international system—rather than a new creation. • Extension of battlefield as well as marketplace • Not a revolutionary space. • Cyberspace is capitalist , not socialist.
    8. 8. THE REALIST VIEW (CONTD..) • Advantages of the Cyberspace : • Force Multiplier • Enables the quest for strategic paralysis • Cyberspace’s unique open, anarchic system is a danger rather than an opportunity.
    9. 9. CYBERWARFARE • Stuxnet • China – Taiwan, China – US Conflict • Russian CW against Estonia • Is CW a strategic weapon? • Can CW be employed with the intent to achieve a strategic political agenda? • Did the targeted nations concede a strategic political objective?
    10. 10. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA • Background • Early 2007 Estonian Government decides to relocate a World War II Soviet War Memorial from the capital city of Tallinn to a military cemetery outside of the city. • The Russian government as well as many Russia citizens are outraged at the perceived slight. • It is generally accepted that this was the catalyst for the cyber attacks that occurred soon after the uproar over the war memorial
    11. 11. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions before the attack • Diplomatic : • Estonia adopted a look West policy • Increases diplomatic relations with other Central European States. • Starting in 2005 Estonia starts to diplomatically distance itself from Russia. • Estonia wanted to interact with Russia as an equal nation.
    12. 12. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions before the attack • Information • Few countries in the world to allow voting to occur over the Internet • Aggressively embraced the information age • 90% of people aged between 12 – 24 use internet • 58% of people aged between 24 – 49 • 95% Banking transactions conducted electronically • Information security procedures were not capable of preventing the attacks, but once started they were able to respond effectively.
    13. 13. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions before the attack • Military • In 2006 – 2007 Estonia increased military spending as it wanted to become a contributing partner in EU and NATO. • Wanted to distance itself from security reliance on Russia. • Instead wanted to pursue a ―Look West‖ military policy
    14. 14. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions before the attack • Economic • Baltic Economic Powerhouse in 2006 • Information Technology (IT) was among the most significant economic sectors
    15. 15. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Summary of the Attack • Primary target were government and government related internet sites. • Civilian sites were also targeted but no military sites were attacked. • The Internet security professionals were unable to defend their systems from attacks which initially were originating from .ru domain but then the attacks started originating from all across the world. • A complete shut down of traffic coming into Estonia from the international community had to be enforced.
    16. 16. As per Martin Libicki CW can be used for Espionage Disruption  Corruption  Distraction RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.)
    17. 17. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions after the attack: • Diplomatic • Diplomatic stance towards Russia deteriorated. • Ties with Western allies strengthened immediately as Western government went to Estonia’s aid. • Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Ford said in 2007 the Baltic states, ―will never be left alone again, whether threatened by old, new, or virtual threats. . . .‖
    18. 18. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions after the attack: • Information • Estonia looked to NATO and the EU for increased protection of its information infrastructure • In response NATO established a ―Centre of Excellence‖ in Tallinn within one year of the attacks to conduct training and research into CW. • Estonia developed sophisticated policies and strategies to safeguard its information infrastructure, specifically through published information security strategy doctrine (Cyber Security Strategy, Estonian Ministry of Defence 2008).
    19. 19. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions after the attack: • Military • Maintained all military and NATO military commitments and did not modify any domestic military programs. • Published strategy for Cyber Security. • Rather than avoid the potential dangers of CW as a result of the cyber attack, Estonia moved aggressively to develop measures to prevent CW within a year of the attacks.
    20. 20. RUSSIAN CW AGAINST ESTONIA(CONTD.) • Conditions after the attack: • Economic • Despite efforts by Russia to Estonian Economy, Estonia continued to perform well for the rest of 2007.
    21. 21. IS IT RELEVANT? • Is CW a strategic weapon? • No, but future possibilities are there where it can be used as a strategic weapon. And this might lead to a security dilemma. • Can CW be employed with the intent to achieve a strategic political agenda? • Yes. The intent for causing changes in Diplomatic, Information and Economic power was there although Russia failed in its objectives. • Did the targeted nation concede a strategic political objective? • No, but the opposite happened. Estonia forged quick alliances and distanced itself from Russia.
    22. 22. POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF CW • Incidents in real world can lead to actions in cyberspace and vice versa. • Identifying the true enemy could be a problem. • Low costs of entry with potentially high returns on investment. • Attractive tool for waging asymmetric war. • Non Violent means of coercion.
    23. 23. BIBLIOGRAPHY • Ed Pilkington, ―Washington moves to classify cyber-attacks as acts of war”, 31.05.2011, The Guardian, accessed at attacks • Nicholas C. Rueter, Department of Political Science Duke University, The Cybersecurity Dilemma, 2011 • Stuart S. Malawer, Cyber Warfare:Law and Policy Proposals for U.S. and Global Governance, VIRGINIA LAWYER, February 2010, Vol. 58 • Mary McEvoy Manjikian, “From Global Village to Virtual Battlespace:The Colonizing of the Internet and the Extension of Realpolitik”, International Studies Quarterly (2010) 54, 381–401 • BRADLEY L. BOYD, CYBER WARFARE: ARMAGEDDON IN A TEACUP?, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Feb – Dec 2009 • Misha Glenny, “Cyber-weaponry, virtual battlefields and the changing face of global warfare”, 16.05.2011, The Guardian, accessed at hacking?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487 • Cyber Security Strategy, Cyber Security Strategy Committee, Ministry of Defence, Estonia, 2008