The Concept of Deterrence and its Applicability in the Cyber Domain
Manuel Fischer


Cyberspace as the fifth domain is omnipresent, and all developed states increasingly realize that international relations and typical domains of statehood change in the face of global digitization. With the advent of game-changing technologies, traditional statecraft tools, such as deterrence, seem disregarded as outdated in the national security strategy building process. Advanced states, in particular, depend heavily on an open and safe cyber domain but, at the same time, suffer from manifold vulnerabilities. The recent past showed that sophisticated cyberattacks have the potential to disrupt governments, economies, and societies significantly and therefore pose a threat to core security interests. As a classical tool in international relations, deterrence can help bolster national security interests, even if the cyber domain requires some special considerations. Therefore, the article explains the basic mechanisms of deterrence in the nuclear age and contemporary international relations, cyberspace’s legal framework, and possible ways to apply deterrence in the cyber domain. It aims to urge global leaders to thoroughly consider deterrence in the cyber domain as a powerful asset and to provide policymakers with options for action.

Previous Issue

The lead article in the Spring 2014 issue of Connections looks into the interplay of incentives and requirements for NATO membership from the point of view of an aspirant country, Georgia. Other papers question the effectiveness of the UN Security Council vis-a-vis the Syrian crisis, the US pivot to Asia in view of the enduring terrorist threat, an... Read More