Cyber Power: Attack and Defense Lessons from Land, Sea, and Air Power - Estonia and Georgia Cyber Conflicts, Through the Lens of Fundamental Warfighting Concepts Like Initiative, Speed, and Mobility
Cyberspace is the newest warfighting domain, but heretofore it has been the nearly exclusive purview of technical experts, not warfighters. Consequently, much of the work on cyber power theory has eschewed the traditional concepts and lexicon of war in favor of language more familiar to technical experts in information communications technology. More
This report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Cyberspace is the newest warfighting domain, but heretofore it has been the nearly exclusive purview of technical experts, not warfighters. Consequently, much of the work on cyber power theory has eschewed the traditional concepts and lexicon of war in favor of language more familiar to technical experts in information communications technology. This convention stunts strategic thinking on cyber power and creates a barrier to cyber power's integration into joint military operations. For these reasons, this study advances the beginnings of a cyber power theory rooted in the lessons of war experience in the traditional warfighting domains of land, sea, and air. By examining cyber power through the lens of fundamental concepts like initiative, terrain, speed, and mobility cyberspace's similarities to the other warfighting domains emerge. Cyber power combines qualities inherent to land, sea, and air power - making cyber power simultaneously distinct from, and analogous to, all three. This unique synergy is what separates cyber power from these other forms of military power. At the same time, similarities between cyberspace and the physical domains lets cyber power theory take lessons from past war experiences, as well as from the military theories of those like Carl von Clausewitz, Sir Julian Corbett, Sir John Slessor, and John Boyd. By rigorously observing when the analogies between cyberspace and the other domains apply and collapse, this study gleans some lessons from traditional experience and theory on how to seize the advantage on attack or defense in cyber power.
The medium we know today as cyberspace is truly new. The medium's beginnings can be traced back to World War II when the first analog computer, Colossus, was invented to aid the wildly effective Allied code-breaking effort against Germany, codenamed ULTRA. The development of cyberspace was slow, but reached critical mass in the 1980s when the Internet (a network of networks) supplanted the ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency net). Since that time, the spread of computer networking has become ubiquitous in the developed world, and continues to expand worldwide at a breakneck pace with the proliferation of mobile computing smart phones.
Conflict has already started in cyberspace. One of the earliest examples is the American sabotage on a Soviet oil and gas pipeline in the early 1980s. A more recent example is the cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear program using the Stuxnet computer virus. The Stuxnet virus corrupted the control system for the centrifuges Iran had been using to enrich uranium, destroying or disabling the centrifuges in the process. Western analysts believe that this cyber attack, in conjunction with other measures, has delayed Iran's nuclear weapons program until 2015. This delay, achieved non-kinetically, is the best most experts believed the United States or its allies could have attained with an air strike on those same centrifuge facilities. Cyber power is the ability to exploit cyberspace to create advantages and influence events. As Stuxnet demonstrates, cyber power can produce strategic, operational, and tactical effects on par with the traditional violent means of conflict - land, sea, and air power.
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