The Three “Cyber Logics” and Their Implications to Cyber Conflicts: Germany, France, and the United Kingdom as Case Studies

Author: Toso de Alcântara, B.
Published in: Conference: 19th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security
Year: 2020
Type: Academic articles

The crescent use of cyberspace attached to daily activities and critical infrastructures, makes states worry about cyber-attacks and develop certain cyber operations to reactively or actively counter them. The picture gets more complicated when a variety of paradoxes appears in front of the state's conventional actions related to sovereignty, offensive, defensive, and liability issues. To diminish these paradoxes, while countering cyber-attacks, states ended creating power relations not only among themselves but also with other international actors, especially companies. These power relations ultimately shape the degree of stability of cyberspace, which means influencing the openness and freedom of it, mainly in the application layer. Thus, one may wonder how these power relations can develop to make what now has been considered the fifth domain of war more or less prone to conflict escalation. This paper makes the hypothesis that if the cyberspace dynamics allows hierarchy power relations among states the way this hierarchy will be seen by them can be shaped with either a cooperative (friendship), competitive or enmity (conflict) logic, causing the international and digital system to have an interweaving along the lines of what Wendt (1999) spells out with the three logics of anarchy of the International System. Thus, if cyberspace is a manmade space and perceptions of actors can shape it, what in states' perception could result in a more cooperative (Kantian), competitive (Lockean), or enmity (Hobbesian) action pattern? Using qualitative document analysis from official cyber documents, within some European states (i.e., Germany, France, United Kingdom) this paper, aims to track the features encompassing states logics when positioning toward cyberspace ("cyber logics") and determines which one is predominant. The structure of the paper will start with a theoretical review of the anarchy logics, passing to the analysis of the logic in the cases chosen and finally comparing them, defining which one seems to be dominant and its consequences for conflict escalation in cyberspace.

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Bruna Toso de Alcântara

Former Fellow: Daten, Akteure, Infrastrukturen