Cyber Forecast Cloudy with a Chance of Persistent Authoritarianism

Photo: iStock/Hailshadow

The world’s malicious cyber actors — Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – have spoiled cyber’s original, idealistic vision and instead use cyberspace to advance competitive interests to undermine Western laws and norms and pursue a clandestine means (cyber theft) to catch up with the West in technology, political influence, and wealth. Further, they are perfecting cyberspace as a tool for political control internally. In short, the cyber world so far has given us many good things, but also many bad and never delivered the profound political change many predicted; overall, to date, one could argue it’s been a disappointment.

Cyberspace operations today are hard to discern and even harder to attribute and forensics and attribution are likely to get harder for malevolent states that do not adhere to international law, Western notions of liberal democracy, or accepted norms of behavior. It is entirely possible that the United States and its allies will not be able to discern or deter numerous — if not most — adversary cyberspace operations in the future as malicious cyber activity becomes more surreptitious, numerous, automated, and normalized. In short, cyberspace is Paradise Lost and its future is gloomy with a chance of frequent, un-attributable assault.

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