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Cyberspace is a unique, human-made domain that was created for the facilitation of interaction and can be characterized as a globally interconnected infrastructure (Deibert and Rohozinski 15). It has made the free exchange of information via a networked system for more than half of the world’s population possible (Deibert and Rohozinski 15). Emerging risks in cyberspace pose a new threat to modern societies around the world that has the potential to undermine the safety of their citizens and bring significant disruption to political, social, and economic life.
To conceptualize cyberspace security, it is necessary to make a distinction between two risk dimensions: risk to cyberspace and risk through cyberspace (Deibert and Rohozinski 16). The risk of cyberspace can be characterized as a threat to the physical infrastructure of communication technologies. The risk through cyberspace, on the other hand, is a threat posed by cyberspace itself and is facilitated by the use of its technologies (Deibert and Rohozinski 16).
The Risks to Cyberspace
Even though the Internet was created to become a particularly resilient network, its rise and change of status from a small web of interconnected devices to the global hub of social and economic life introduced a wide range of security vulnerabilities to its physical structure. After being targeted numerous times with a malicious intent to bring disruption, many states have recognized cyberspace as “a key national asset” and have decided to establish special institutions that will protect critical infrastructure, thereby reducing risks to the normal functioning of the network (Deibert and Rohozinski 19).
It is important to keep in mind that cyberspace is a prerequisite for the existence of global capitalism in its current form; therefore, emerging risks to cyberspace threaten to undermine global capital markets and disrupt existing economic order. Therefore, the security requirements of cyberspace infrastructure and flow of information coincide with some of the national security imperatives and have to be protected by government actors. To this end, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have developed national encryption standards and protection protocols (Deibert and Rohozinski 19).
Moreover, the task of securing critical infrastructure from deliberate attacks and other risks pushed many states to develop doctrines concerned with “the offensive operations in cyberspace” (Deibert and Rohozinski 20).
The Risks Through Cyberspace
The technological explosion of the last decade was associated with the creation of civic networks that helped to organize social and political activities of many nations more efficiently and allowed countless individuals to express their opinions without the help of intermediaries such as radio and press (Kim-Kwang Raymond 719). New media channels allowed for a significant shift in the landscape of public discourse by bringing sweeping changes to countries like Egypt. However, cyberspace has also been increasingly used for expressing the minority views of terrorist groups (Kim-Kwang Raymond 719).
They have used information and communication technology for spreading their military doctrines and promoting extremist activities. Numerous jihad-oriented groups have been known to explore the anonymous nature of cyberspace for radicalization and recruitment among different communities (Kim-Kwang Raymond 719). Moreover, they have also utilized them for funding terrorist activities and making contact with radicals all over the world. Another challenge presented by cyberspace is the ever-increasing criminal activities: online extortion, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and unauthorized access (Kim-Kwang Raymond 719).
Numerous risks to cyberspace and through cyberspace result in a long-term negative impact on business and government activities; therefore, all cyber threats have to be properly addressed by security agencies and other organizations.
Choo, Kim-Kwang Raymond. “The Cyber Threat Landscape: Challenges and Future Research Directions.” Computers & Security 30.8 (2011): 719-731. Web.
Deibert, Ronald, and Rafal Rohozinski. “Risking Security: Policies and Paradoxes of Cyberspace Security.” International Political Sociology 4.1 (2010): 15-32. Web.