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02/20/2017 HYU News > Academics Important News

Title

Redefining Warfare for Cyberspace Battle

Professor Eun Yong-soo (Department of Political Science & International Studies)

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Contents
                           Professor Eun.
                    (Photo courtesy of Eun)

Since the early 2010s, there have been reports in the media about the rising number of cyberattacks. One of the most notable incidents is the US and Israel's joint cyber assaults at Iran's nuclear facilities using the Stuxnet worm virus. The attacks focused on destroying the operation system of the installations instead of military offense.

Hearing this, Professor Eun Yong-soo (Department of Political Science & International Studies) started to question the adaptability of the traditional concept of war to modern cyberattacks. The first Asian to become the editor-in-chief of the Routledge series, "International Relations (IR) Theory and Practice in Asia", Eun specializes in IR theory. His paper, "Cyberwar: Taking Stock of Security and Warfare in the Digital Age" discusses the necessity to reformulate the concept of war in the Information Era. This paper was published in International Studies Perspectives, a SSCI indexed and internationally recognized academic journel of the International Studies Association. 

According to a German war theorist, Karl Clausewitz, a traditional war is caused with violent means such as destruction, by an institutionalized entity, which has a political purpose to acquire certain values like power or money. Although the concept of cyberwar can be applied to this definition, it is insufficient since there are great disparities between the virtual and the physical world.  

First, in the case of cyberwar, it is difficult to find who is responsible for the war. "In traditional war, we know who began the attack, and who discharged the missiles. But due to the advance of digital technology, stealthy attacks are possible by circumventing Internet Protocol (IP) addresses," explained Eun. In addition, there may be individuals who serve a government or an institutionalized organization to launch a cyberattack.

Second, the damage caused by cyberwar is indirect and comprehensive, whereas harm done by traditional wars occurs directly and instantaneously. If blackout occurs in organizations such as banks and digital network, the entire city becomes disordered, negatively influencing the crime rate and crashing the stock market- and in turn, affecting the whole nation's economy to gradually collapse in the long run.

Finally, cyber attacks are much easier to launch than physical assaults. Traditional warfare needs money, and much challenging, as armies need maintaining and weapons have to be launched. Moreover, such attacks are spotted on radar and satellites. By comparison, cyberattacks are carried out with ease. By simple access to the Internet, the whole information network can be destroyed.

 
“There is a concept called 'cyberwar asymmetric paradox'. Although a nation, such as the US and South Korea, boasts high information and communication technology (ICT), its proliferation and reliance means reduced cyberwar strength, because the defense ability is decreased,” Eun specified. This means that the ubiquitous Internet may easily turn many into victims of Information War. Cyberwar asymmetric paradox increases third world countries' motivation to trigger cyberwars. Since they are less subject to shutdowns by cyberattacks due to poor infrastructure, they would remain safe from any damages caused by cyberwars compared to other developed countries.

 

A lower mark in cyber dependence makes a country more dependent. Although the US's cyber offence is stronger than North Korea, the total cyber-strength is weaker due to high cyber dependence and low cyber defence.
(Photo courtesy of Eun)

“Therefore, there is a need for redefining warfare. The imbalance of power is a significant aspect when analyzing causes of war, since balance of strength may restrain the desire for war. So, when analyzing national power, it is important to consider cyber-strength as an important factor of war along with GDP and military power,” Eun concluded.
 

According to Eun, open social consensus on the extent to calling cyberattack a war is also indispensible, because of its broad and comprehensive damage. This is also significant due to possible cases where hyper securitization can be wrongfully used as a means of acquiring political advantage, labeling every major and minor cyberattack a war. In addition, open discussion, research, and creation of a manual for cyberwar is a necessity particularly in South Korea where despite all the cyberattacks caused by North Korea and high cyber-reliance, there is a lack of academic discussion regarding the issue.

Eun explains the need for open discussion and academic research on cyberwar in the modern society. 


Currently, Eun is planning to develop diverse research theories in the field of international politics. "The theories for academics are typically Western-oriented. They don’t depict our world and its reality," Eun argued. His project is to develop non-Western international political theories. Eun is currently writing a book about the subject, which is called "What is at Stake in Building "Non-Western" International Relations Theory?", and is leading a research project about emotions influencing international politics. "There are a lot of emotional battles going on among Korea, Japan and China. I'm interested in how the collective feelings of a group or a nation affect diplomacy," he said.

Turning over conventional ideas and mainstream research methods is what interests Eun, and they usually trigger his research. "Difficulties do arise when you don't follow the mainstream. Yet, I believe that thinking differently is necessary for the development of a society. Even though diverse ideas are not easily accepted, there is a need for people to vocalize thoughts that differ from the mainstream."
 

Eun believes that voicing diverse ideas that differ from the mainstream is important for the development of society.




Jang Soo-hyun        luxkari@hanyang.ac.kr
Photos by Choi Min-ju
 

 

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