Over the years, the development of information and communication technologies has revolutionized the global, social and political landscape. As a result, this has significantly influenced the emergence of network-centric warfare doctrine as well as unconventional, hybrid, information, and asymmetric warfare. However, the most significant transformation came through the emergence of cyber warfare. Cyber warfare relates to the conflict that is encountered in the implementation of cyberspace capabilities whereby objectives are achieved through the cyberspace. This paper aims to examine the future of cyber warfare in relation to how the future wars will be fought. To illustrate the ethical issues related to cyber warfare as well as the implications of the United States towards countering cyber-attacks. Furthermore, it will also look at the future of the implications with regards to implementing a defensive approach.
In most cases, cyber conflicts and changes happening in the warfare are often regarded as superficial. According to various researches that have been carried out, to grasp the understanding of these conflicts and changes fully, a holistic approach needs to be carried out regarding cyber warfare. As such, due to its limiting nature, the main question remains unclear as to why cyber conflicts are dangerous as well as the various consequences and threats associated with it. It is through this that further developments can be addressed both for military strategies and the international legal regulation of warfare.
Most of the public discussions involving a country's governmental and military information systems are centered on defense against cyber-attacks. As such, the demand for an organized capacity for offensive cyber-attacks has several unusual features regarding cyber warfare. Cyber-attacks on hostile nations and political organizations are arguably the primary new form of warfare by democracies which are advanced technologically.
Despite the uncertainty regarding ethical policy, public and political discussions have been implemented to determine the source of cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks are often termed as the "attribution problem" due to their credible deniability. For instance, many countries tend to plausibly claim that the source of the attacks may be within their territories with no participation of the government. On the contrary, many cyber-attacks are often considered as non-lethal in comparison to nuclear weapons and other traditional weapons of war.
Also, unlike nuclear and other advanced technology weapons, there are no exotic components to cyber weapons. Any computer might be a potential source to be used as a cyber-weapon. Furthermore, anyone who possesses advanced knowledge regarding the use of cyber weapons to access information systems is a potential cyber combatant. As a result, most treaties find it difficult to ban cyber weapons virtually.
Unfortunately, one feature that cyber warfare shares with warfare is that defense is represented as expensive and prone to failure. In comparison to the offense, there are often well-known difficulties associated with civil nuclear defense, anti-missile technologies body armor, and protection against improvised explosive devices among others. Features such as the low degree of certainty are often common in both cyberwarfare and conventional warfare. The low degree of uncertainty may raise various questions such as what would result from such an attack. Furthermore, it may also reflect on the deleterious side effects that can come as a result of unexpected anticipation.
The Morality of Cyber Warfare: The Easy and Hard Cases
In a broader perspective, the attribution problem resembles epistemic problems which have been disregarded by most theorists as a result of the morality of war. Normally, in such cases, justification or evidence may be presented in relation to the threshold conditions encountered morally to participate in the war. Furthermore, there is a difference between the metaphysical conditions for a moral war and the epistemic conditions. For instance, one might behave morally if the objectives presented exemplify extensive evidence. In turn, this will allow the necessary condition for participating in war to be held, thus guaranteeing an assurance even if there was no participation.
One of the major peculiarities of cyber-attacks response is epistemic uncertainty. As such, this uncertainty is often similar to preemptive and preventive war. In the case of a cyber-attack, the uncertainty is usually in the form of questions such as the combatant responsible for the attack and what can be done to prevent similar future attacks.
Cyber Warfare and Traditional Just War Theory
Existing national laws and international law are often considered as separate implications when it comes to cyber warfare. Furthermore, since these laws (statutes, agreements, and treaties among others) rarely correspond with permitting what may be termed as morally permissible, their sufficiency may be uncertain. Nevertheless, the legal status of cyber warfare aligns with the situation related to its morality. In many instances of cyber warfare, the most legal framework does not have the capability of corresponding to certain measures. Hence, the most case of cyber warfare involves inflicting damage or harm including disorienting the functioning of information that has not been regulated by the law.
The Just War Theory is a traditional theory based on what is morally permissible in war. The theory is usually composed of two relevant questions. These include whether a country may participate in or initiate a war. On the other hand, a question may arise as to whether one may morally participate in war when involved in such a case. A Just War Theory often tends to rely upon the traditional understanding of casus belli, thus, when it abandons or extensively modifies such a concept; it will no longer be regarded as the same.
The DOD Cyber Strategy - United States Department of DefenseAs the use of cyber-attacks as a political instrument continues to grow, a dangerous trend in international relations is experienced. Data systems have become vulnerable as both state, and non-states actors aim towards striking at the United States and its interests. In most cases, sophisticated actors would target the industrial control system (ICS) on public utility. In turn, this affects public safety whereby a network is encrypted to disrupt health records thus affecting the well-being of an individual. As a result, such an attack presents a potential risk to the economy and national security of countries such as the United States.
Over the years, the Defense Department of the United States has come up with ways to implement and integrate capabilities for cyber operations. As such, they have deployed certain tools to deter and defend the United States against any harmful adversaries. These range from diplomatic, informational, military to economic, financial, and law enforcement tools. The Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace (DDSOC) has played an important role in ensuring that effective cybersecurity and operation have been implemented. The department also focuses on building capabilities to support operational and contingency plans.
Cybersecurity is often regarded as one of the key priorities in matters concerned with national and international security. Even though fatalities might be a common threat regarding the future of cyber warfare, the main concern lies in relating cyber-attacks as an act of aggression. For cyberspace to be protected, it is better to detect cyber-attacks at an early stage. In turn, this will ensure that there would be no delays experienced by countries which are like-minded. Furthermore, collective cyber defense mechanisms such as invading networks of the attackers might also be considered as a potential strategy to protect cyberspace.
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