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date: 27 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Cyber conflict is often called the fifth domain of conflict. As more and more systems, networks, and information become digitized, there is contestation as to the growing nature of the threat and how exactly this domain can be exploited to coerce the enemy for either geopolitical or financial gain. Some argue that the cyber threat is exponentially growing and that offensive dominance reigns, making cyber conflict extremely unstable. Others contest that the threat is overblown and is more socially constructed. In this chapter we take a middle ground and find that much of the cyber conflict and security discourse has gotten it wrong through conjecture and worst- (or best-) case scenarios. We argue that a system of norms must be built upon and preserved to keep cyberspace a domain of relative openness and nonescalation. Arms races and deterrence strategies are not the path forward for a secure, prosperous cyberspace.

Keywords: cyber conflict, cyber security, threat perceptions, empirical evidence, cyber norms

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