Cyber Defence Library

Cyberspace: Definition and Implications

Cyberspace: Definition and Implications

The term “cyber” has been used to describe almost anything that has to do with networks and computers, especially in the security field. Another emerging field of study is looking at conflicts in cyberspace, including state-on-state cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, cyber militias etc. Unfortunately, however, there is no consensus on what “cyberspace” is, let alone what are the implications of conflicts in cyberspace.

In order to clarify this situation, the authors offer the following definition: cyberspace is a time-dependent set of interconnected information systems and the human users that interact with these systems. They describe the background of the definition and show why this approach may be preferable over others. Specifically, they revisit the terms coined by Norbert Wiener (the father of cybernetics) and William Gibson. The authors show that time-dependence is an overlooked aspect of cyber space and make a case for including it in our proposed definition.

In addition, the authors look at the implications that can be drawn from the time-dependence of cyberspace, especially in regard to cyber conflicts, which they define as a confrontation between two or more parties, where at least one party uses cyber attacks against the other(s). Specifically the authors review the implications on the potential for rapid deployments of offensive and defensive actions in cyberspace, the feasibility of mapping cyberspace, and the need for constant patrolling and reconnaissance.

Published in: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security, Dayton, OH, US, 8-9 April.

Ottis, R. & Lorents, P. (2010). Cyberspace: Definition and Implications. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security, Dayton, OH, US, 8-9 April. Reading: Academic Publishing Limited, pp 267-270.