Offensive Cyberspace Operations for Cyber Security


  • Gazmend Huskaj Geneva Centre for Security Policy



Cyber Security, Information Warfare, Offensive Cyberspace Operations, Offensive Defense


This work-in-progress research product covers Offensive Cyberspace Operations for Cyber Security or “Offensive Defense” for Cyber Security. Offensive cyberspace operations are shrouded in secrecy. From an intelligence perspective, this makes sense because of their development since Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The phenomenon, dubbed “Information Warfare,” and to the professionals’ surprise, they could remotely turn off an Iraqi power substation. However, the implication of remotely turning off the power substation was not only to cut off the power source to an Iraqi military headquarters, but it also meant cutting off the power to a nearby hospital, risking the lives of injured Iraqi soldiers protected by the Geneva Conventions. Since the 2000s and onwards, and with the US military recognizing cyberspace as a war-fighting domain, establishing United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) may be a milestone. Thus, researchers have put much thought into cyberspace operations (offensive, defensive), such as doctrine, organizations, training, materials, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy. One phenomenon, dubbed “defending forward,” was coined in the 2018 US Department of Defense Cyber Strategy. The idea is simple: take the fight to the adversary. Other terms include “hunt-forward operations” and “offensive defense.” Therefore, what is “Offensive Defense” for cyber security, and why now?