Rethinking the Cyber Domain and Deterrence
As the Department of Defense (DOD) formulates strategy and doctrine for operating in cyberspace, it is vital to understand the domain and how it relates to the traditional domains of land, sea, air, and space. While cyberspace has distinct technologies and methods, it shares many characteristics with the
traditional domains, and some of the conventional wisdom about how cyberspace differs from them does not hold up under examination.
These similarities are especially relevant when it comes to strategies for deterrence. Just as any attempt to develop a single deterrence strategy for all undesirable activity across the traditional domains would be fraught with difficulty, so too for cyberspace. Yet this is how many authors have approached the topic of deterrence in cyberspace. Instead, by focusing on particular cyber weapons that
are amenable to deterrence or drawing from existing deterrence regimes, the issues become more tractable.
But first, two key attributes of cyberspace must be examined, as they show why cyberspace strongly resembles traditional domains. These are the roles played by man vs. nature and the malleability of the domains. Other similarities across the domains are described later in the context of deterrence.