Thursday, June 25, 2009

Origins of my research interests

In the spring of 2007 I was just finishing my Master's in TUT when the cyber attacks against Estonia started. Since then I have tried to understand these attacks in particular and political large scale cyber attacks in general as part of my PhD studies.

I have found that the Internet, while being the great information equalizer for the common man, is also a convenient information weapon for the common man. In case of recent conflicts we hear with increasing frequency about their prelude, reflection, and aftermath in cyberspace. More likely than not, these attacks are not committed by state run organizations, but people who share or oppose the view of at least one side of the conflict.

While state sponsored attacks undoubtedly exist, I believe they currently keep a much lower profile and are usually in the role of intelligence/counter intelligence operations. There is little or no credible information on state sponsored attacks to harm or disrupt the opponent's systems, even though many nations are actively building such capabilities. It should follow that the next time that two technologically advanced states fight a full conventional war (not a border skirmish), cyber attacks will be used. Until then, however, we can merely speculate and simulate.

Therefore, even though I am also interested in state level cyber conflicts, I mainly focus my research on sub-state actors, as they are more visible and relevant in today's conflicts. I am interested in how they recruit, organize, and fight, as well as what potential effect they can have on their targets.

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