New Tallinn Paper: Digital Power Gives Asymmetric Advantage to Small States

Even though cyberspace cannot entirely replace physical space in inter-state conflict, the diverse and unpredictable combinations of ICT methods in asymmetric warfare dilute the traditional power and dominance logic, concludes the most recent publication in the Tallinn Papers series.

Liina Areng, a Centre Ambassador and the Head of International Relations at the Estonian Information System Authority, discusses the role of small states in international cyber security in Lilliputian States in Digital Affairs and Cyber Security. She analyses how innovation and technological change help small states attain influence in international relations and, through this new asymmetric toolbox of “digital power”, gain leverage in international cyber security. She uses Estonia’s success story as an example of how a small country has seized the opportunity to guide international developments in the cyber domain.

“Digital power gives a clear asymmetric advantage in national security to small states. /…/ Small states still have more opportunity to compete in this domain than in traditional warfare because, in modern warfare, “mass” is no longer a decisive factor,” emphasizes Ms Areng in her analysis. “The “large and powerful” cannot take for granted that they will always come out as winners from cyber conflicts with a small state, particularly if small states have jointly developed a seamlessly functioning cooperation network that builds upon a pool of individual states’ expertise and capabilities routinely tested in regional exercises.”

The full text of recent Tallinn Paper Lilliputian States in Digital Affairs and Cyber Security can be accesses through our publications library at