Arming Cyberspace: The Militarization of a Virtual Domain
Miguel Alberto N. Gomez
Abstract: The increasing frequency of offensive cyberspace operations (OCOs) directed toward states, particularly the disclosure of Stuxnet in 2010 that appears to have been aimed at disrupting Iran’s nuclear development program, has prompted a reassessment of state behavior in cyberspace. In the years since, states have gradually militarized cyberspace through the establishments of various programs that have framed this as a new domain of warfare. Yet despite the pace of these transformations, a unified theoretical understanding of this phenomenon continues to remain conspicuously absent. To date, scholars have attempted to explain such by highlighting the advantages offered by cyberspace while others have cited the growing fear-based rhetoric grounded by the increasing societal dependence on technology. Neither of these, however, can adequately explain why certain states have militarized while others have not despite predictions of such taking place. Consequently, this study, encompassing the period from 2011 to 2014, proposes that depolarizing these respective arguments may close the existing theoretical gap. In doing so, the study employs a quantitative analytical approach that examines how cyberspace had been militarized across states as a function of both strategic considerations and resource requirements which are both driven by rational choice and societal perceptions regarding this domain.