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Hackers take part in a test at the Cybersecurity Conference in Lille, France, Jan. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Michel Spingler).

How Will Emerging Cyber Threats Change the Way We Think About Conflict?

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017

It’s now well understood that many governments see their cyber capabilities as a tool to influence, coerce, deter and disrupt their enemies and rivals. Societies and states today are almost totally dependent on cyberspace to communicate, conduct routine but essential transactions, store information and make critical decisions about policy matters, from the mundane to the strategic. Yet it’s hard for people without deep technical understanding of the technology—your columnist included—to know where to fit these cyber realities into familiar categories for the conduct of national security and international relations.

There’s also a risk of discussing openly how to respond to cyber threats and attacks with the transparency demanded in democratic societies, when the cyber bullies often come from places that are quite good at deception and denial. There isn’t an even playing field to begin to discuss new norms, or global governance for cyberspace. Russia, North Korea, Iran and China are known to have developed advanced cyber capabilities as a form of asymmetric warfare and are not willing to engage in any serious discussion to govern or limit their use. ...

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