Time to Reconsider How State Actors are Defined in Cyberspace

Since the late 1990s, geopolitics have increasingly become a driver of hostilities between nation states and their non-state sympathizers.  Hostile cyber attacks have been influential in expressing one state’s views against another during periods of political tensions, as they have served as a signaling agent without crossing a threshold of destruction that could warrant more aggressive responses.  States have also used proxies – non-state entities closely aligned to their government benefactors – in this capacity as well, as they typically possess cyber capabilities, demonstrate unwavering loyalty, and provide at least one level of removal separating the government from proxy activities.  One thing has become abundantly clear: proxies provide another resource for states, and as such, states maintain some semblance of control over them, whether via direct order, through intelligence or military cut-outs, or allowing them to promulgate without restriction or interference.