A Cyber-Diplomacy and Cybersecurity Awareness Framework (CDAF) for Developing Countries


  • Hendrik Zwarts University of Johannesburg
  • Dr Jaco Du Toit
  • Prof Basie Von Solms




cyber-diplomacy, cybersecurity, awareness, framework, cyber conflict, CDAF


Cybersecurity is high on the agenda of national and international security policy discussions – mostly lead by diplomats. The practise of diplomacy has evolved since the Internet has become the backbone of society as we know it. Technological evolution has resulted in a significantly bigger and more accessible cyberspace, but the ability of governments and institutions to respond to and function in an expanding cyberspace seems to be lagging behind. The practice of diplomacy has similarly changed fundamentally and created a cyber-diplomacy environment where there is an increased utilization of inter alia social media platforms to achieve foreign policy goals. There is not enough attention given to practical processes to guide the new breed of diplomats in the evolving world of cyber-diplomacy and there is a need to improve the cybersecurity awareness of diplomats in all countries, but this article will focus primarily on developing countries. To mitigate potential cyber threats to diplomacy, diplomats need to be subjected to cyber-diplomacy orientation as well as functional cyber awareness training. Preliminary research conducted suggests that there is a gap between the existing and required cyber-diplomacy and cybersecurity awareness levels of diplomats from developing countries. The purpose of the article is to present a cyber-diplomacy and cybersecurity awareness framework (CDAF) that can be used by developing countries to equip their diplomats to play a more constructive role within the international cyber-diplomacy domain. The CDAF comprises of two distinct components, namely cyber-diplomacy and cybersecurity awareness, but this article will focus primarily on the cyber-diplomacy capacity building aspect of the CDAF. The CDAF was developed by following a design science research approach where a real-world problem was identified followed by an in-depth literature review to identify objectives and possible solutions to the problem. The subsequent outcomes were used to design and development of the CDAF. The article concludes with a critical evaluation of the proposed framework as well as how it can be incorporated into the developing cybersecurity knowledge modules of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE).