Cyberspace Geography and Cyber Terrain: Challenges Producing a Universal map of Cyberspace


  • Alexander Grandin Finnish Defence Research Agency



Cyber Defence, Cyber Terrain, Cyberspace Geography, Cyber Territory, Cyberspace Mapping


Much in the same way that cyber has become the fifth military domain, cyberspace has also brought forth the research area of Cyberspace Geography. The challenge of producing a universal map of cyberspace however still exists. Cybersecurity specialists, military personnel and researchers still begin with a blank sheet on which the wanted elements of cyberspace are arranged before solving their actual problem. The abundance of elements in cyberspace requires a careful selection of factors to include in one's map, depending on how it will be used. However, a complex and ever-changing environment such as cyberspace could make use of a generally acknowledged starting point, facilitating this work. In previous research cyberspace has been described as a combination of the physical world, the social world and the information world. The multidisciplinary research in Cyberspace Geography has developed models for mapping and displaying cyberspace. This is often done by creating topological maps, much like the map of the New York subway system. Military cybersecurity researchers have through the concept of Cyber Terrain presented similar models of cyberspace for military operations. Research has also been produced on the techniques and methods for mapping cyberspace as well as the different presentations of the mapped information. Graph theory has for instance been used as a mathematical model of cyberspace. It is nonetheless unclear if there is some degree of universality in the elements that the different research presents. Which are e.g. the similar features between the cyberspace maps that are used for military operations, that describe the cyber environment of a country or between the elements used for modelling a cybersecurity system? This paper aims to present a solution to this challenge by systematically reviewing the research on Cyberspace Geography and Cyber Terrain using thematic analysis. The different elements of the maps of cyberspace are reviewed. The research will answer if a universal map, that can be used as a starting point for solving multiple challenges in cyberspace, can at present be prepared.