Cyberspace: What Exactly It is to the Armed Forces


The reliable access to cyberspace is the necessary component of national security and it represents a direct interest for all citizens. Nowadays, the maintaining high standards of national security and facilitating economic growth rates are mutually dependent objectives. The effective use of cyberspace is crucial for achieving all main economic and security goals. Thus, the Department of Defense should ensure the necessary comparative advantages for its armed forces in the sphere of cyber-security. It means not only the availability of the high amounts of material and non-material resources but the optimization of the entire organization process.

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It should be stressed that the emergence of cyberspace requires corresponding changes in national governance mechanism to reach the balance among business, individual and national interests. All of them should be protected without any negative influence on the rights of other groups. One of the main challenges in this area is associated with the fact that cyberspace is subject to permanent changes and even “optimal” mechanisms for some periods of time may appear completely inadequate in the near future. Thus, it is important to design not only a set of fixed solutions to the existing threats but introduce a flexible system that may prevent them and understand the general patterns and trends.

The characteristic feature of cyberspace is that it is a decentralized system that is not controlled by any single agency. Therefore, the law enforcement process and military organizations play the main role in protecting the rights of all parties. As cyberspace creates a number of unique opportunities for the inexpensive access to a global environment, it becomes potentially attractive for those individuals who try to implement fraudulent activities for the achievement of their goals. Moreover, cyber-attacks may be developed on the national level in order to advocate for national interests of different countries.

The dynamics of markets is largely dependent on available information rather than objective economic or technological data (Senturk, Cil, & Sagiroglou, 2012). For example, in 2013, a false report about an explosion at the White House was introduced through the hacked Twitter news account. It led to losses on the US stock market of around $130 billion within several minutes (Williams, 2014). This example shows that even small defects in cyber-security may lead to significant losses for any global economy.

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Therefore, the majority of the developed countries have corresponding cyber command centers to protect their national security (Datta, 2005). The US has US Army Cyber Command for ensuring security standards and dealing with external institutions regarding cyberspace and information issues. This service component coordinates and controls all key defense operations of national Army networks. It aims at maximizing the level of cyberspace freedom for national institutions and responds to various external challenges. It seems that at the international level, the interests of different countries do not always coincide or may be adequately balanced. As some of them are antagonistic, it leads to the emergence of actual and potential conflicts.

Therefore, modern research is often devoted to the issue of cyber wars. The US Military Forces have a whole system that may respond to a potential cyber strike. In this context, the idea of deterrence is often considered as an effective response to the majority of potential threats. Its basic principles were developed during the Cold War when any attack would immediately result in counter-strike and immediate destruction of not only the aggressor but the planet as a whole. The advocates of such position suggest that as this strategy was effective during the Cold War, it may also be applied in relation to cyber threats.

However, this argumentation does not seem to be well-developed. It should be stressed that deterrence is a psychological tool aiming at affecting actions of other parties by affecting its cost-benefit calculations. If any kind of aggression immediately results in complete destruction, it may be expected that the initiatives for such behavior will be absent. The actual practice supported this idea. At the same time, such idea also implicitly assumes rationality of all parties involved. It means that all individuals responsible for such decisions should share the same basic principles and at least value their survival above other political or economic goals. During the Cold War, political leaders knew each other and were able to introduce such realistic assumptions that led to correct actions and positive long-term results.

However, the situation with cyber threats is different. First of all, the current system is highly decentralized and it is impossible to know the initiator of a potential attack in advance. Correspondingly, it is impossible to make any assumptions about his/her rationality or irrationality. Moreover, there are several modern tools that allow reaching complete anonymity in making specific actions (International Telecommunication Union, 2005). If the necessary level of anonymity is reached, it may be problematic to determine the aggressor. Thus, there is no rationale for the direction of response. The ultimate purpose of this response is not affecting the computer from which a given attack was initiated but the actual person responsible for it. All these aspects demonstrate that the classical system of deterrence in inapplicable under current conditions.

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The main actions of the Department of Defense should be directed not at the affecting of psychological state of potential aggressors but at the set of preventive measures of technological and economic character. It is reasonable to use the current trends to extrapolate the existing tendency in the near future. On this basis, it is possible to predict the expected level of cyber threats in the subsequent periods of time. Then, it is reasonable to allocate financial and other resources accordingly. However, the providing of adequate amounts of resources may not be sufficient for the adequate solution of the entire problem.

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