Victory in Cyberspace: Issues, Means, and Geography


A review of state-initiated and state-sponsored incidents in cyberspace in the past decade reveals that over two thirds of these involved actors within the Asia Pacific; often times occurring in the context of politico-economic disputes. These activities range from attempts at espionage to that of coercion; in all appearance confirming the domain's increasing strategic value. But upon closer inspection, only half of these have resulted in meeting their political objectives. Moreover, successful cases have involved notable regional powers employing relatively unsophisticated tools and tactics in cyberspace. Consequently, this challenges the prevailing notion that cyberspace provides an asymmetric advantage to 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 dynamics of the strategic utilization of this domain is paramount. In so doing, this paper argues that success in cyberspace is not determined solely by an aggressor's technological prowess but depends crucially on the underlying issues, appropriate force employment, and an understanding of the domain’s unique geography. By applying Eckstein's critical-case analysis on both successful and failed coercive attempts in cyberspace, the paper demonstrates that domain may serve as an effective complementary coercive instrument. With its increasing utilization in on-going and emergent disputes, such insight is both timely and necessary in maintaining stability within the region.

Author Information
Miguel Alberto Gomez

Paper Information
Conference: APSec2016
Stream: Strategy and Warfare

This paper is part of the APSec2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon