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Analysis of Cyberspace Deterrence

Cyber warfare allows the implementation of influence on the enemy comparable to nuclear or conventional weapons of high power. With the growing role of informatization in international politics, the risks associated with the desires of various state and non-state actors to disrupt stability or destroy the information structures of other states are growing. This paper aims at analyzing how cyberspace deterrence differs when facing state and non-state enemies.

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The most serious potential threats come from non-state actors in international relations. Given the role of the private sector in the development of information technology, non-state actors can surpass some states in some indicators of their information potential and resources.1 Thus, the response will differ when dealing with a state actor in comparison with a non-state enemy. At the technical level, the protection mechanisms will be the same for both state and non-state attacks. However, at the diplomatic and legal level, the actions will be different.2 Unlike in the non-state cyberspace attacks, when dealing with state enemies, effective information security can be achieved not only by technological means. In this case, appropriate efforts in the field of legal regulation should be made, as well as the development of appropriate national policies for each country.

The correct attribution of the source of cyber threats is now more important than ever.

It is required not only to understand who is acting against the state but also to build a deterrence strategy and plan defensive actions. When facing state enemies, the Department of Defense should strengthen national ingenuity through a skilled workforce and rapid technological development.3 What concerns non-state actors, the development of international awareness and prevention capabilities is important to improve the collective deterrence system.4 Since international cooperation in cyberspace continues to evolve, countries must promote close cooperation with their allies, primarily through the development of a common warning system, as well as joint training activities.

Cyberspace deterrence is supposed to be achieved by early identification of any threat, the formation of a strategic mechanism of information containment, and increasing the level of protection of information infrastructure. Despite the differences in deterring state and non-state cyberspace attacks, a consistent approach to information security is vital in today’s world. It includes the correct incident response procedures, cyber defense, detection and response technologies, and the preparedness of IT professionals and users.


  1. Bernard Brodie, Strategy in the Missile Age (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2015), 45.
  2. Sean C. Kern, Expanding Combat Power Through Military Cyberpower Theory (National Defense University Norfolk, VA Joint Advanced Warfighting School, 2015), 2.
  3. The US Department of Defense,Cyber Strategy: Summary,” 2018. Web.
  4. Andy Massie, “Domain Control for Cross-Domain Effect: Defining the Central Purpose of the US Air Force,” The Mitchell Forum 4 (2016), 3.

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