Cyber Warfare as a Superficially Tempting Low-Level Engagement Strategy

At first sight, and against certain counterparties, cyber warfare has appeared and proved to be a phenomenally low-cost and low-risk tool of adversarial foreign policy. But while questions increasingly arise about exposure to reciprocal risk to the most heavily digitized knowledge- and data-based economy and society, it has become clear that the genie will never again return into its bottle. Strategic, legal, and political questions will not be dodged much longer. The very advantages of cyber warfare may easily and all too quickly be turned against a first mover, especially one as vulnerable as a highly digitized industrial state. Its use for asymmetric warfare increases attractiveness to non-state actors. And one of its arguably greatest potential, the disruption of enemy economic functionality by disruption of payment systems has regularly been vetoed in the interest of the integrity of the global system. It may appear that the philosophy underlying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as treaties banning use of chemical and biological weapons may provide even stronger rationales in an understanding to ensure mutual non-aggression by digital electronic means between major and even mid-size powers.