A Whole-of-Society Approach to Organise for Offensive Cyberspace Operations: The Case of the Smart State Sweden


  • Gazmend Huskaj Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Stefan Axelsson Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University




deterrence, cyberspace capabilities, information systems, offensive cyberspace operations, smart state


Threat actors conduct offensive cyberspace operations for many purposes, such as espionage, to destroy information assets, and cybercrime. These operations are possible thanks to the innovation and development of information and communications technologies (ICT). Interconnected information systems have transformed societies positively. However, specific states exploit these systems' vulnerabilities to advance their strategic national interests. Therefore, it is important to know how a state can organise itself to defend against threat actors. The purpose of this research is to present how the smart state Sweden can through a whole-of-society approach organise for Offensive Cyberspace Operations. The intent is to conduct an active and independent foreign-, security- and defence policy, but also as a base for deterrence and defence. This article is based on a mixed methods approach. It uses the case study research strategy to discover new information. Fourteen men and women participated in individual semi-structured interviews. The respondents ranged in age from 40 to 65 with more than 20 years of experience in cyberspace operations, intelligence operations, military operations, special forces operations, and knowledge and understanding about information warfare and information operations. The analytic strategies include thematic analysis and quantitative methods to interpret the data. The results show many themes, but the article is especially focused on the themes of Operations, Capability, Policy & Governance, and Legal Frameworks. Finally, a conceptual map of a whole-of-society approach to organise for offensive cyberspace operations is presented inferred from the themes, codes, and content, and mapped to each responsible agency based on the interviews and codes. The answer to the research question is that Sweden should have a whole-of-society approach to organise for Offensive Cyberspace Operations to project power in and through cyberspace with the intent to conduct an active and independent foreign, security and defence policy and for deterrence, as described in Figure 2.