Cyber Weapons and National Power

by edwardmroche

Assessments of national power have changed over time.  During the Second World War, and during the Cold War, national power was estimated as a function of the military balance of power.  In the case of nuclear weapons, this was called the “Balance of Terror”.

Countries knew that between the superpowers, it was unlikely to have a major “central system” war, because each side was deterred from attacking the other.   In this way, thermonuclear weapons became a cornerstone of peace, and at least thus far, they have worked in preventing a Third World War.

Now, we are harvesting the benefits of the information age.  The greatest amount of GDP for advanced nations is accounted for by information transactions, and these can happen only through telecommunications networks, and information systems.  Indeed, all advanced societies are information societies.   As a consequence, in order to attack a nation, no bombs are required.   Instead, one can attack its information systems.

In order to carry out these attacks, it is necessary to have cyber weapons.  We now can say that the level of sophistication of a nation’s cyber weaponry is also an important measure of its national power.