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Cyberspace As An Independent Dominion Of War

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Cyberspace as an independent dominion of war is still been disputed and not explored as a different and whole dimension. Thus far cyberspace has been literally taken as a medium of communications for data transaction. On the conduct of warfare and addressing the national security concerns, the focus generally has been on systems and means that generate communications capability for wider information interaction within the cyber dimension. However, increasingly evidence, the emergence of cyber security threats has and potentially challenging contemporary national security concept. As national critical infrastructure becomes more dependent on computer networks for their operation, new vulnerabilities are created. As such, the information age, known for progress made in providing rapid access to data and information exchange, also creates challenges to national security.

In order to answer the research questions and to fulfill the research objectives, the researcher used qualitative research method. The best possible study design through precise and considerate planning has to be created based on the existing circumstances by identifying available resources. The content analysis method was used in this study that the researcher has to survey all the literature available in the field of cyberspace.

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Hence, this chapter will generally explain the finding of the study. The finding will be discussed to arrive to the outcome of the research questions and research objective. In this chapter, it will firstly, explain all element of cyber-attack and identify the most harmful and latest series viruses that may have huge threat to the network. The example of impact will be highlighted to give some idea on the seriousness of this threat to a system. Secondly, with given some insights on the impact happen to other states as well as what happened to ARAMCO and how severe it has cause to the owner. Thirdly, to examine the existing strategy that has been adopted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to see the level of preparedness by the authority and perhaps suggested some recommendation.


What establish cyber domain? This question must be answered first before this study can goes any further. The Internet’s organizing architecture, devices connected to the Internet, and wired and wireless networks constituted cyber domain. Internet was created by human and it’s difficult to conceptualize its structure. Because of its complexity, the cyber domain, essentially networks of networked computers, operating on a permeating data transfer protocol, is both interactively and structurally .Those networks are managed by government and private entities, while some were connected to the wider world website and some that are not. In short, cyber domain includes the Internet’s organizing architecture, devices connected to the Internet, and wired and wireless networks.

Meanwile, Unite States Joint Publication 1-02 defined cyberspace as “a global domain within the information environment consisting of the independent network of information technology infrastructures, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers .” Cyberspace comprises all existing computer networks and all the devices connected to those networks . Cyberspace can be understood as a metaphor describing virtual (non-physical) environment created by interconnecting computer systems into the network . It is just the same interaction between subjects as likes in the real world without require physical activity. Information is shared either in a real time or it can be delayed, people can buy things, share experience, search contents, conduct research, work, or play . Cyberspace includes mobile telephone, a MP 3 player and a GPS receiver includes all network enclaves and isolated devices so long as they contain a data processing element.

Meanwhile, a cyber-attack takes place in cyberspace. Martin Libicki’s (2009) defines a cyber-attack as a “deliberate disruption or corruption by one state of a system of interest to another state” . Cyber-attack affects key features of a technology. The main objective of cyber-attack is to get, modify, or destroy data. It could be done by destroying the information, influence data in a negative way or to take over the control of some elements of cyberspace infrastructure . The other objectives of cyber-attack is either damaging or gaining sensitive or strategically important information. It is often connected with politically or militarily motivated attacks . Cyber-attacks happened frequently and well organized. To deal with cyber-attack damages are expensive. Those damages could threaten prosperity, security and stability of a country or an organization . The fundamentals of cyber system security are administration of cyberspace system infrastructure elements, security incidents management, regular audits, cyberspace systems vulnerability assessment, or carrying out penetration tests .

The key question that was guiding the research for this study was how the impact of cyber-attack would influence the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strategy to curb the cyber-attack. But prior to discuss the impact and strategy, one must understand the element of cyber-attack.

Chang and Granger (2014) have laid several important elements of the cyber-attack. Those elements are raising levels of convergence, the speed of interactions, the inextricable human element, and the empowerment of the individual within the cyber domain .

Convergence has referred mostly to the seemingly inevitable march of the integration of digital technologies into fewer delivery platforms. For example, the distinction between email, television, and voice communications has been blurred by the wide-scale adoption of smartphones capable of all three functions operating on Internet protocols. Convergence is also the blending of the virtual and physical worlds. As more systems are connected to the wider Internet for purposes of efficiency and convenience, many physical objects will have a presence in the virtual world. At one extreme, virtual deletion becomes the equivalent of physical destruction. For example, most of the world’s finances exist as data only, and fixing data corruption would be reliant on electronic data in the absence of physical records . The merger of the virtual and physical worlds has also extended to humans and technology. Convergence also means that vulnerabilities currently identified in computer programs that control physical entities like industrial control systems (ICS) will grow more widespread . ICS is the umbrella term for a class of electronic systems that control a wide-range of infrastructure such as water, gas, and electric systems. In an inherently open system convergence means more virtual vulnerabilities some analogous to physical ones.

Another element of cyber–attack is the human element. The human element is a fundamental part of the cyber domain which cannot be ignored. Because humans built the cyber architecture, it will be inherently imperfect. By enforcing security measures such as installing anti-virus software, creating passwords, and rebuffing social engineering tactics like “phishing” all fall upon the user. And in most cases, the software itself has bugs and holes in it, whether it is running as an operating system or at the application level.

Speed is also an important element of the cyber-attack. Action in cyberspace can be faster and lead to further reaching geographic effects than in other domains. However, the operators of computer systems are humans who do not work at light speed. Humans act as functional constraints on the environment to the extent that they are in control of the device and program in operation. While electrons move at light speed, bottlenecks in network architecture and the average processor speed across a data route are also constraints. Finally, while electrons are faster than ground forces, when operations in cyberspace support wider-scale military operations in other domains, the boots constrain the pace of operations. The main effort ultimately dictates the effectiveness of the electrons as well.

The cyber domain is an operating environment. Because of computerization, it improved the effectiveness of the individual. Simultaneously it’s alert the small groups, and then spread the knowledge across the world. Anywhere in the world, an individual can operate with an internet connection and can command a large group of computers clandestinely and remotely controlled to conduct an attack. One can also create a program that replicates and spreads on its own, through the same methods. Anybody can learn the most effective technique and further exploit previously unknown vulnerabilities since knowledge transmission is costless. Such loose networks and networks of networks begin to exhibit emergent intelligence, replicating centrally directed action where no such authority exists . In other words, individuals such as the group Anonymous, using a clandestine computer, can have the same impact as computer operatives who took down large numbers of public and private Estonian networks in 2007 .

Lastly, the asymmetry between the resources, costs, values, stakes, and organization of groups like Anonymous as compared to government organizations such as the United States Cyber Command stems from an environment that is more amenable to virtual insurgency than it is to conventional warfare . Because of the open design of the cyber domain, defense is inherently more costly and time consuming than offense. Also, expensive and highly technical cyber weapons developed by governments can be easily and inexpensively repurposed by others in the cyber domain. Asymmetry in the cyber domain generally favors smaller and more agile actors. These actors often don’t have a permanent physical address and can mask their virtual ones. This is a key point that large bureaucracies must embrace in order to develop effective mitigation strategies. That is why a cyber-attack can be defined as an attack on the structure of information technologies. It could damage a production process, services or technology.


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