The limits of cyber operations in wartime


Interesting article by Lennart Maschmeyer: “The subversive trilemma: why cyber operations fall short of expectations“:

Summary: Although cyberconflicts have existed for thirty years, the strategic utility of cyber operations remains unclear. Many expect cyber operations to provide independent utility in both warfare and low-intensity competition. These expectations are based on widely held assumptions that information technology increases operational efficiency. But a growing body of research shows how cyber operations tend to fall short of their promises. The reason for this shortfall is their subversive mechanism of action. In theory, subversion offers a less risky way to exert influence than force because it is covert and indirect, exploiting systems for use against adversaries. The mismatch between promise and practice is the consequence of the subversive trilemma of cyber operations, in which speed, intensity and control are negatively correlated. These constraints pose a trilemma to the actors because a gain on one variable tends to produce losses on the other two variables. A case study of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict provides empirical support for the argument. Qualitative analysis leverages original data from field interviews, leaked documents, forensic evidence, and local media. The results show that the subversive trilemma limited the strategic utility of the five major disruptive cyber operations in this conflict.

*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of Schneier on safety written by Bruce Schneier. Read the original post at:


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