Anticipating cyber battlefields

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security, ICCWS 2017

Publication Date



In war, military planning depends on identifying potential battlefields, a task well informed by history and experience in the physical world. However, battlefields will also exist on networks. They will not be physically apparent or in all cases intuitive and they will also affect military planning. If Internet (digital) battlefields are not identified, planners cannot adequately prepare to fight there, enhancing the risk of surprise and defeat. Using a framework derived from Clausewitz, this paper will propose a path to identifying potential digital battlefields. The framework suggests that, apart from networks connected to obvious physical targets, potential digital battlefields can include high traffic networks, open source databases, even information technology personnel in efforts to bring down, control, or subvert a network being used in a war effort. Planners need to adjust their thinking about attack and defense to include these new possibilities or risk being unprepared to fight in an unexpected place and time.

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