Using Military Cyber Operations as a Deterrent




Cross Domain Deterrence, Cyber Deterrence, Finland, Offensive Cyber Operation, Defensive Cyber Operation, C5 operation, Cyber Resilience


The Deterrence theory was formed after the World War II to describe the tensions between nuclear-armed states. Because of its origins, deterrence is mainly researched from the point of view of powerful states. However, deterrence nowadays is essential for any state to include in their strategies. The ever-increasing dependence on technology forces states to protect their sovereignty in cyberspace as well as in other domains. Cyber operations should be considered not just as a means to protect the cyber domain, but as means of deterrence. Cross domain deterrence (CDD) is a theory that includes all the warfighting domains in creating deterrence, including cyberspace. Despite these new perspectives, the use of military cyber operations as a deterrent has been studied mainly in terms of offensive strategies. Incorporating all types of military cyber operations into deterrence strategies is understudied. This study focuses on the possibilities of a small state to use cyber operations to create deterrence. The research question is: “How can a small state use cyber operations as a deterrent?” According to the Finnish understanding, cyber operations can be divided into three types: offensive, defensive and supportive operations. Using Finland as a case study, this paper argues that using military cyber operations is noteworthy for any state dependent on cyberspace, not only for military purposes, but for building CDD. The CDD theory and characteristics of cyber operations are studied in order to form better understanding of the topic and provide ideas for academic discussion. The research methods are content and SWOT analysis. The key observation presented is that each type of cyber operation has a role in forming CDD. For a small state, it´s profitable to use every type of cyber operations and thus expand the tool box for deterrence.