(This article and where its referencing to, originally crafted by Jarno Limnell, can be found at https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/22924-Defining-the-Qualities-of-Cyber-Warfare.html)

Short overview about this article

This article may trigger a short debate about the figure of cyber warfare may possess and what may belong to it. Among that, I must believe that intelligence sources which ISS refers contains amount of non governmental players and other illegitimate practitioners currently on market.

Sure, the total amount of inductions that can be counted as intrusions has gained mass significantly. Iran fortifying attack capabilities would mean only that they realized, finally, among other nation states that some other nation shall use capabilities introduced by the cyber domain and building pure defensive side is not going to be good enough, as developing defensive capabilities lets you be only underdog. Attacker has the upper hand. Always. Prove me wrong.

Maneuvering tactical depth is always difficult and in case Iran vs. US as an example, the depth is significant – in both sides. I bet there is no nation existing that understands the factor well enough. What shall they do when decision making capabilities are removed? In civilized societies the pan governmental integration is tight, and that makes it vulnerable. Its service based approach in very large end-2-end service architecture and while important information service is rendered unavailable, all others collapse.

Information operations

I believe that cyber warfare as part of the information operations has gained much in past years, and will gain even more towards ‘information exploitation’ with larger yield available.

Strategic value of cyber

I can not see any other way than count cyber warfare as one of the most important strategic ‘values’, if you will, what nation state may possess after strong self recognition. It has influencing ability from deep down the ground till up in the space. No other domain has such cutting through factor. It is the only domain that possess capability to render all the other domains useless.

Those ‘fashionable smart’ people may come at this point to tell “how you disable all kinetic power military possess with your DDoS?”  – well, I dont. No one does. It’s a vague understanding people have for the information superiority capabilities and possibilities.
Do you think that influencing to those ‘higher velocity human factors’ require DDoS to succeed? That’s information warfare at its purest.

For what comes to the future crisis. I believe amount of influence it has from ‘cyber’ depends on struggle itself. In most cases it shall have vertical yield with more regular information warfare components, to influence hearts and minds with traditional
methods of false information, distraction, propaganda et al.

On the other hand, the ability to influence through digital channels gain more and more presence each day, so it would be ridiculous to argue that things shall remain as they are for now on.

Weaponization efforts

Instead, I do believe – I am certain about it – that major areas of cyber warfare shall see real platformization displays within 2 years. The activities building for such capabilities are already underway and yes – that shall be another set of weaponry available for right price.
Do not get me wrong here, its vague to say it wouldn’t go that far. Every other war fighting domain has done it already.

More value such capability has – more tightly kept secret it is – so comparison to nuclear weapons is not that far fetched. Nor the yield on deployment it may have. Cyber warfare has, an advantage over any kinetic force. It’s the controllable focus and controllable yield, precise targeted weapon abilities. A real smart bomb. Stuxnet was not cyber weapon, it was technology demonstrator and single project, with single scope show up.

What is cyber warfare in tactical, operational and in procedural terms?

Cyber warfare is simultaneous intel, defense and offense that can not be compared to kinetic world references, nor can be applied separately. Defense and offense maneuvers simultaneously, thus defeating formal methods. Intel is high-fidelity and automated emulation of research activities taking in place for information exploitation, analysis, direct and in-direct emanuation for tactical and operational needs. The role of intel is much
more important than in pure kinetic trial-error warfare. Imagine intel existing as nexus for data acquisition, analysis and dissemination – basically for everything defensive and offensive component requests.

Decision making in cyber

That requires amount of decision making capabilities and I do believe that significant parts of the efforts put in cyber capabilities shall go in visualization and maneuvering decisions to be made during the loop. Lots of decisions and tasking currently done with manpower shall transform to automation, meaning that human interference shall happen on much higher abstraction layer and the resource intensive (take CN example) work of “hackers” shall be converted to much more automated functions. The team potentionally existed for our fellow Stuxnet example shall look very different in future.


Based on my understanding, utilization of any cyber warfare capabilities does not count to be in Sun Tzu’s category of ‘without fighting’.

I hate to speculate what is war and what is not –  for future with any cyber involvement with its operations warfare, a project warfare in future. It shall include kinetic force elements, but many and massive amount of elements delivered by cyber capabilities shall be in display.

Instead – what I do believe is that things are getting pretty fast much more straight forwards with cyber warfare. Yes, amazing statement? The reason is that cyber enablement shall be understood as de-facto and preparations with and against it shall gain space. That means cyber warfare existence as strategic value shall be recognized and understood as attribute or variable we just have to co-exist with. Like with nuclear weaponry. We gained the ability to control power of atom, we maneuvered information superiority and we realized that its a very powerful to possess.


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