An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The Cyber Defense Review

After Twenty Years of Cyber – Still Unchartered Territory Ahead

By Dr. Jan Kallberg | December 28, 2016

The general notion is that much of the core understanding of cyber is in place. I would like to challenge that perception. There are still vast territories of the cyber domain that need to be researched, structured and understood. I would like to use Winston Churchill’s words: “it is not the beginning of the end; it is maybe the end of the beginning.” In my opinion, the cyber journey is still in a very early stage. The cyber field has yet to mature, and the big building blocks for the future cyber environment are not yet in place. The Internet and networks that support it have increased dramatically over the last decade. Even if the growth of cyber might be stunning, the actual advances are not as impressive.

In the last 20 years cyber defense and cyber as a research discipline has grown from almost nothing to a major global enterprise and the recipient of considerable resources. In the winter of 1996-1997, there were four references to cyber defense in the search engine of that day (AltaVista). Today, there are about 1.3 million references in Google. Cyber knowledge has not developed at the same rapid rate as the interest of, concern and resources for cyber.

The cyber realm is still struggling with elemental challenges such as attribution. Traditional topics in political science and international relations such as deterrence, sovereignty, borders, the threshold for war and norms in cyberspace are still under and discussion. From a military standpoint, there is still a debate about what cyber deterrence would look like, what the actual terrain and maneuverability are like in cyberspace, and who is a cyber combatant. The combatant challenge in cyberspace becomes even more complicated because the clear majority of the networks and infrastructures that could be engaged in potential cyber conflicts are civilian and the people who run these networks are civilians. Additionally, consider a futuristic view of fighting a conflict at a machine speed and with limited human interaction, which adds another level of complexity to the complicated cyber environment.

Cyber raises numerous questions, especially for national and defense leadership, due to its nature. The benefit of cyber is that it can be used as a softer policy option with global reach that does not require predisposition or weeks of getting assets in the right place for action. The problem occurs when you reverse the global reach, and an asymmetric fight occurs, when the global adversaries to the United States can strike utilizing cyber arms and attacks deep to the most granular participle of our society – the individual citizen. Another question raising concern regarding cyber is the matter of time. Cyberattacks and conflicts can be executed at machine speed which is beyond human ability to lead and comprehend what is actual happening. This view of cyber as a field of study is in its early stages even if we have an astronomic growth of networked equipment, nodes, and sheer volume of transferred information. We have the massive activity on the Internet and in networks, but we are not fully able to utilize it or even structurally understand it at a system level and in a greater societal setting. I believe that it could take until the mid-2030s with the establishment of a global framework before many of the essential elements of cyber have become accepted, structured and understood. With knowledge weaponized in cyber, it is important to invest in cyber research and undertake discoveries now rather than face strategic surprises later.

US Army Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. Army reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The Army and the Army alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the Army, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying Army endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

Army does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Army may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. Army does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Army or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.