Strategic Cyber Defense: Which Way Forward?

Cyber security has evolved from a technical discipline to a strategic, geopolitical concept. The question for national security thinkers today is not how to protect one or even a thousand computers, but millions, including the “cyberspace” around them.

Strategic challenges require strategic solutions. This article considers four nation-state approaches to cyber attack mitigation:

1. Technology: Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)
2. Doctrine: Sun Tzu’s Art of War
3. Deterrence: can we prevent cyber attacks?
4. Arms control: can we limit cyber weapons?

These threat mitigation strategies fall into different categories. IPv6 is a technical solution. Art of War is military. The third and fourth strategies are hybrid: deterrence is a mix of military and political considerations, while arms control is a political/technical approach.

Technology and doctrine are the most likely strategies to provide shortterm improvement in a nation‟s cyber defense posture. Deterrence and arms control, which are more subject to outside politcial influence and current events, may offer cyber attack mitigation but only in the longer-term.


Geers, K. (2012). Strategic Cyber Defense: Which Way Forward? Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 9(1)(2) 1-12 (2012).

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