Considerations on the Cyber Domain as the New Worldwide Battlefield
The convergence of telecommunication and computer technologies that has evolved in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the last two decades has had very important effects on new war technologies and the ongoing process of battlefield digitisation. The Stuxnet worm, uncovered in 2010 and responsible for the sabotaging of a uranium enrichment infrastructure in Iran, is a clear example of a digital weapon. The incident shows what is meant by cyber war and what the particular features of this new warfare dimension are compared to the conventional domains of land, sea, air and space, with relevance both at the operational and strategic levels. But cyberspace also extends to the semantic level, within the complimentary field of information warfare involving the content of messages flowing through the Internet for the purposes of propaganda, information, disinformation, consensus building, etc. The overall cyber warfare domain needs to be put into perspective internationally as many countries are developing strong cyber capabilities and an ‘arms race’ is already taking place, showing that these technologies can potentially be used to undermine international stability and security. What is needed is a public debate on the topic and its impact on global stability, and some kind of regulation or international agreement on this new warfare domain, including an approach involving confidence building measures (CBMs).
Keywords: Cyber war, information warfare, Stuxnet, battlefield digitisation, cyber strategy