What is the Cyber Domain?
The cyber domain as it is referred to in the reading materials, is essentially a combination of space, various threat actors and competing agendas. The cyber domain is like any other war fighting domain such as sea, air or land. Each of these domains includes a variety of assets, liabilities, strengths, weaknesses and tactics that leverage each of these elements. What makes the cyber domain different from other war fighting domains is that it is primarily intangible yet has the ability to affect material space in other domains. For example an attack using cyrpto-malware in the case of NotPetya caused an astronomical amount of damage to essential infrastructure in Ukraine and organizations outside of the conflict.
Another unique aspect of cyber warfare is that it provides the perfect delivery system for asymmetric war fighting options into the battle space. Reviewing NotPetya again, by attacking MeDoc, Russia was able to disable much of Ukraine’s banking system which affected every aspect of life for Ukrainian citizens. This adversely affected regular services used for daily operations and even the power grid. This was a massive tactical benefit derived from a repurposed malware variant likely delivered through one simple email. When cyber attacks like this are used in combination with other war fighting tactics the advantages of the cyber domain as a war fighting domain become clear.
As the world becomes even more interconnected and dependent on technology, the asymmetric threat of cyber attacks becomes more pronounced. This fact will likely drive governments, militaries and non-state actors to increasingly recognize the potential of cyber weapons as a tool on the battlefield. Cyber methodologies will also likely be leveraged to advance all aspects of foreign policy to include influence campaigns, information warfare, intelligence operations and the other more subtle elements of modern warfare. Because of this, the risk of not viewing the cyber domain as one that is characteristic of war fighting is too great. This is not to say that all elements of the cyber domain are being used for war fighting purposes, in fact most of it is not. However, like any other domain throughout history, the cyber domain must be controlled and protected. This involves the use of war fighting terminology, analysis and tactics when referring to the cyber domain.