The Open Definition of Cyber: Technology or a Social Construction?

The Open Definition of Cyber: Technology or a Social Construction?

Martti Lehto (Finnish National Defence University, Finland), Aki-Mauri Huhtinen (Finnish National Defence University, Finland) and Saara Jantunen (Finnish National Defence University, Finland)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/ijcwt.2011040101
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Security strategy work requires a definition for ’cyberspace’. This article discusses national definitions and analyses their contents. Defining what cyberspace is equals the exercise of political power. Therefore, it is important to discuss what the definitions mean in practice - whether cyberspace is seen as a restricted mathematical-technological domain or a social construction. Government publications highlight the technological aspect of cyberspace, whereas threats stem from human behaviour. For some, cyberspace is a primary operational environment for national security that must be protected with defensive and offensive military means. For others, cyberspace is primarily a digital civil society in which the free flow and usability of information and the identity and anonymity of citizens must be secured. Cyberspace can also be seen as a place for business, where material and immaterial products and services can be offered. The authors argue for the broad definition of cyberspace, incorporating both technological and social concepts. But cyberspace may never be comprehensively defined. If only a strictly technology-oriented approach is used to define cyberspace, many of its risks and problems cannot be addressed. Cyberspace allows the exercise of power; therefore, its definition should not be reduced to pure technology.
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The main argument in this paper is that the organizational development of the military follows the development pattern of the military-industrial complex: economic steering surpasses the political Clausewitzian steering and the 'de-territorialization' of the Comprehensive Approach planning model centralizes the traditional Services (Army, Navy, Air Force) into common (virtual) capabilities. Deep down it is about power struggle within the armed forces. This is visible in, for example, Afghanistan and the working environment frustrations of the Joint Force Command Headquarters. At the same time economic steering is creating an unending network of 24/7 're-territorialization', mostly in the cyber defense domain, where defense economic resources will be moved to. The traditional bureaucracy of a military organization is replaced by the 'marketization' of the military culture. Increased outsourcing partnerships and the increased influence of third sector actors in the battle space are examples of this marketization, as well as the transformation of the politico-military strategic level from conducting international politics or diplomacy to a level with strategic communication, reputation management and increased information operations.

Especially small European states, such as Finland, are in a challenging situation in terms of their national identity. They have to ask themselves whether they should accept the geopolitical change and the new situation caused by the emergence of the cyber dimension into the security functions in society. This has transformed the citizens' and, consequently, the politicians' image of a threat from a large-scale war to 'humanitarian' operations conducted far from Europe. The compartmentalizing of the new threats into the computer and Internet world also moves war and violence behind the curtain of clean and hygienic technology. We do not think that a computer might be as destructive as a nuclear weapon or a missile. We don't even dare to think what a large-scale cyber war would be on a global level: most likely something much worse than nuclear war. Our identities and everyday lives are totally dependent on information technology. The worst post-modern dream could be the virtual (invisible) rhizome or a network of nuclear weapons and computers that would quickly change our ideas of far-away asymmetric wars into something that is a total and global cyber war. The worst possible world is a typical concept for the post-modern thinking. The only way to protect oneself from this kind of thinking is to allow participative thinking for everyone. Therefore, all central information systems involved with national security should be open source and allow everyone to participate and observe. In its own way, the Wikileaks principle was attempting to achieve this.

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