Origins of Cyberwarfare: How the Internet got Weaponized


  • Ada Peter Communications Department, Covenant University, Nigeria
  • Ujunwa Ohakpougwu Communications Department, Covenant University, Nigeria



Cyberwar, cyberweapons, cyberspace, cyberwarfare, U.S legislations, National Cyber Security Strategies


Cyberspace was until last decade and half a perfect additional intelligence gathering tool. Within a phase of time during the spread of the world wide web, the cyberspace expanded outside the boundaries of intelligence gathering to a perfect weapon in the hands of both state and non-state actors for destabilizing or devastating the state of critical infrastructures of perceived enemy or competitors. In the heart of the storm, Social Scientists have either focused on extensive definitions and clarifications of cyberwar, others are fixated on explaining the various emerging dangers of cyber weapons on society, like the consequences of weaponizing the cyberspace against a nation’s power grid, nuclear command, and control systems, neutralizing a petrochemical plant, paralyzing a government’s health care or governance structure and possibilities of manipulating elections. But few, if any have considered the question which is central to this paper: How did the cyberspace evolve from an intelligence tool to a cyberweapon against critical infrastructures? The obvious answer is that the magnified global access and use of networked systems provided the perfect battle space for deploying cyberweapons. The preceding explanation is essentially correct, but it is entirely lacking in detail explaining how cyberspace became weaponized? Under what conditions was cyberspace purely an intelligence tool. Under what conditions is cyberspace weaponized? This research incorporates these and other questions into a framework through the means of a model designed to aid understanding of how the cyberspace evolve from an intelligence tool to a destructive weapon targeted at critical infrastructures. Primary sources include relatively untapped 107 Congress Laws on Cyber related legislations. From the 105th congress to the current 116th congress, 1, 177 legislations have been introduced on cyber or cyber related issues. Other primary sources include White House fact sheets, statements, press releases, President Trump’s 2018 National Cyber Security Strategies, President Obama’s 2016 Cyber Security National Action Plan, and cyber related executive orders, statements, and press releases from President Johnson of the last 5 US administrations.