Cyber diplomacy and tensions in cyberspace: an inescapable analogy

Description of a digital age analogy


Cyberspace allows the emergence of exchanges between different stakeholders (or entities).
Nevertheless, the nature of these exchanges – positive or negative – remains to be described. Indeed, various interactions occur every day, hours, minutes and seconds. These interactions have an immeasurable impact on relations within cyberspace, and particularly with regard to the international community.

Therefore, these interactions cause tensions within cyberspace, which need a regulated framework and management in order to maintain a certain standard of behaviour in this space. Similarly, these tensions cause friction that can increase cyber attacks, and ultimately lead to cybersecurity, one of the areas of cyber diplomacy.
Similarly, these tensions cause friction that can increase cyber attacks, and ultimately affect cybersecurity, one of the areas of cyber diplomacy.
According to Shaun Riordan, Director of Chair of Cyberspace and Diplomacy at the European Institute for International Studies (EIIS), cyber diplomacy is defined as the use of diplomatic tools and diplomatic mindsets to resolve issues arising from cyberspace.

Thus, the analogy between cyber diplomacy and tensions within cyberspace is the effort to explain ongoing attempts that outline answers to this type of recurring problem.
Since Cyber diplomacy is based on a logic of applying diplomatic instruments to solve problems arising in cyberspace, the state of the situation has led to changes in diplomatic agendas. These changes have been considered in the context of threats from the cyber domain which are also priorities.

Diplomatic action, necessary operation


2.1. The impact of diplomatic action in international relations

Considering that diplomatic action involves the intervention of a state or government in the cyber domain, it is important to take into consideration many factors that have significant meanings:

  • the level of cyber attacks is escalating;
  • the use of “weapons” specific to the cyber domain.

In order to act, States can first rely on different strategies and first tools at their disposal:

  • specific action strategies and reports, for example Australia, which is very involved in the cyber domain;
  • the observation and recognition of the 11 voluntary norms, voted upon in 2015 within the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts.

2.2. The illustration of NotPetya, WannaCry,…

For example, NotPetya was a cyber attack reported as the most devastating in history, according to Andy Greenberg. The author describes its origin and dimension after its first impact on Denmark’s largest naval vessel company operating worldwide, A.P. Møller-Mærsk. It all started from a cyber attack originally named Petya.

Indeed, it was a malware, originating from Windows systems (Master Boot Record or MBR), which took place in 2017.
This malware spread rapidly, through the vulnerability support of these Windows systems.
In addition, a rather similar attack, known as WannaCry, would have exploited it.
In addition, this ransomware would have used the same exploit “Eternal Blue” from the NSA.
NotPetya occurred because some of the original malware was modified, which made it spread faster.

As a result, the diplomatic action for these global cyber attacks has shown a certain capacity to act.
Insofar as attribution is a diplomatic means to literally attribute an attack to a nation state.
A coalition of states joins forces to shed light on the perpetrator responsible for the attack.
The reasons may be diplomatic, political, economic or other in nature, and may be supported by evidence.


In Brief


To conclude, the presence of cyber diplomacy is ever-expanding.
Notably, to face tensions, and consequently, increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, it is becoming essential to become aware of the importance of Cyber diplomacy.
For foreign policies of countries, cyber diplomacy has become a major issue, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field.

Finally, an in-depth work is still needed, because this is done over the long-term.
In parallel with ongoing and future global and regional initiatives, research in the field of Cyber diplomacy is all the more essential.
For this would provide academic, scientific and empirical elements. They would be key supports for progress towards a concrete, even satisfactory assessment.


Credits : picpedia

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