Cyber conflict in the 21st century. The future of war and security in a digitalizing world

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In the year 2013, threats originating in cyberspace for the first time in history topped the Global Threat Assessment of the United States Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a list naming the most pressing national security challenges to the United States. In recent times, rapid technological developments have created a new domain of international politics. These developments mark the ‘birth of cyberspace’. New technologies provide us with unimaginable possibilities, our world becomes more interconnected with the day. However, it also creates a new domain for conflict. Cyber conflict. This thesis’s main aim is to come up with an assessment on the future of war and security in this digitalizing world. It seeks to come up with answers by testing two hypotheses in nine different cases. Firstly, the role of non state and hybrid actors in the cyber domain is investigated. Secondly, the specific targets of cyber operations are looked into more in detail. This thesis’s conclusion is that the influence of developments in the cyber domain is not to be underestimated. Although it is difficult to give a precise assessment of the future of war and security, it is only a matter of time until cyber operations will become more important. We will never again live in a world without cyber. Cyber is here to stay.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen