What is the true cost and scale of cyber warfare?

cyber warfare

Due to the rapid development and widespread use of information technology, cyberspace has become essential to a state, society, and people’s daily lives. Cyberspace is convenient, but it also presents many potential risks and difficulties.

Many nations with advanced information and communications technology (ICT) have developed cyberspace policies and strategies to compete for dominance in the digital world. States are creating and implementing new means of control, and in many cases, they aim to dominate cyberspace.

In many nations, developing armies now heavily include preparing for cyberwarfare. In addition to nation-states, non-state actors have also used the openness and connectivity of cyberspace to devastatingly harm nations and societies.

However, there are still no international laws governing cyberspace, particularly the law for cyberspace arms control, despite efforts by various nations to prepare for cyber warfare and individual cyber-intrusions. Since some nations have an advantage in information technology, they are unwilling to discuss restrictions on online behavior.

To combat cyber threats, uphold order and security in cyberspace, and regulate cyber activities, it is urgent to develop international rules and improve the system of international law.

Cost and scale of cyber warfare – Why is it deadly?

According to Bill Woodcock, the research director at the Packet Clearing House, a nonprofit that monitors Internet traffic, cyberattacks are so cheap and simple to mount and leave few traces that they will almost certainly continue to be a part of modern warfare. According to Woodcock, replacing a tank tread could pay for an entire cyberwarfare campaign. Each machine costs about 4 cents.

Additionally, traditional Cold War deterrence models of assured retaliation do not apply in cyberspace, where tracking down the perpetrator of an attack is challenging and time-consuming. A computer virus typically does not have a return address, whereas a missile does. If an attacker can be identified, the necessary forensic work could take months. Even if the attacker is found, if they are non-state actors like terrorist groups, they might not have any assets that the target country can use to retaliate.

Furthermore, it’s not always obvious what an attack is. Today’s invasions frequently resemble espionage more than actual acts of war. The fact that cyberattacks frequently originate from servers that have been compromised in neutral nations and that responses to them may have unintended consequences further complicates the deterrence equation.

Due to the difficulties in attribution, traditional arms control regimes would probably be unable to prevent cyberattacks, making compliance verification impossible. Therefore, given the possibilities, the scope of a state-sponsored cyber-attack could be catastrophic.

Here are some of the key benefits and traits of cyber warfare.

  • Reduced costs compared to conventional strikes.
  • Higher efficiency in achieving the goal.
  • The asymmetric nature of cyber-attacks makes defense difficult.
  • The anonymous nature of the offense allows the attacking government to circumvent approval by the world community compared with a military offensive.
  • Possibility to conduct cyber-attacks in peacetime for immediate geopolitical ends and to prepare for possible future kinetic attacks.

How do countries respond to cyber warfare?

According to estimates, all 15 nations with the world’s largest military budgets are developing offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. 68 nations out of the 193 UN members had cyber security projects in place in 2011. However, in 2012, there were 114 of these nations, and 47 had military cyber-security projects. These 47 nations are creating corresponding military theories while evaluating their military’s cyber-security capabilities. In light of this, international efforts to control and eliminate nuclear weapons are increasing, including in cyberspace.

The United States has been at the forefront of information technology since the early 1970s. It has created a fairly comprehensive set of policies and strategies for cyberspace by drawing on its advantageous position in information technology and adequate funding. It is accelerating the development of cyber forces and the study of cyber warfare on a theoretical level.

The Pentagon concentrates on a few key characteristics of the cyber threat when creating a strategy to combat cyberspace dangers. Cyberwarfare is asymmetric, to start with. Due to the low cost of computing equipment, for example, American adversaries do not need to develop expensive weapons like stealth fighters or aircraft carriers to seriously endanger American military capabilities.

If a dozen dedicated computer programmers can find a weakness to exploit, they could endanger the worldwide logistics network of the United States, steal its operational blueprints, compromise its intelligence capabilities, or make it more difficult to deliver weapons to their intended targets.

With this in mind, numerous militaries are developing cyberspace offensive capabilities, and more than 100 foreign intelligence agencies are attempting to hack into American networks. The American information infrastructure is already susceptible to disruption by some governments.

The offense has the upper hand in cyberspace. Security and identity management were given less consideration when designing the Internet because it was intended to be collaborative, quickly expandable, and have low barriers to technological innovation.

The U.S. government’s capacity to protect its networks always falls short of its adversaries’ capacity to take advantage of U.S. networks’ flaws for these structural reasons. Programmers with advanced skills can find security flaws and defeat defenses put in place to stop intrusions. A fortress mentality won’t work in an environment where the offense is the norm.


Cyber warfare is often referred to as the fifth battlespace, a new form of warfare that requires further definition. Others view it as nothing more than a brand-new tool to be incorporated into conventional warfare. Whatever the case, there is no denying that as information technology (IT) develops, cyberspace quickly joins the ranks of the land, sea, air, and space battlefields. A significant domain that affects social stability, national security, economic development, and cultural communication, cyberspace has emerged as a new forum for political, economic, military, and other interactions.