The term cyberspace is believed to have been first introduced by William Gibson in his roman titled Burning Chrome (1984). In the modern sense, the cyberspace defines an open environment used by the computers and computer memories. According to the French philosopher Pierre Levy, cyberspace is a smooth, distinctively precise and interactive space that can be processed virtually, in real time. This space enables reception, transmission, modeling and registration of the information.
Since the outset of the XXI century, the global processes in the cyberspace led to the start of a rivalry between the countries of the world for ensuring control over this realm. Cyberspace where social, economic, political, public and other issues are being handled, has served the interests of those who carried out effective control and therefore, penetrated all the aspects of our lives. Information communication technology is widely used for enhancing information usage in the management, in ensuring the government and citizens’ need for information and in creating environment required for the transition to the information society.
The internet, being an integral component of the cyberspace, is the space that allows an instant and affordable exchange of information, and offers a rapid and convenient method of operation execution. The internet is a global computer network that combines government, commercial, military and other networks. The internet provides a TCP/IP protocol based access to computers, different discussion groups, information resources and electronic mail services. It is safe to say that most of the operations executed in the cyberspace are performed in the internet. According to the International Telecommunication Union, the number of the internet users around the world reached 3 billion in 2014, with developed nations accounting for 66 percent of that number.
A piece of information published by a web-resource is easily read and followed by the users without being subjected to censorship. Forums, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Vkontakte and etc.), interactive texts in the form of discussions and debates are viewed as characteristic elements of the cyberspace. It is estimated that there are over 1.2 billion websites in the world. At first, it may seem that those websites, big and small, are creating a chaos. Albeit true to some extent, this is more like a manageable chaos.
Internet also shapes certain communities and gradually introduces general norms of conduct for all the subjects involved in the information exchange. It would be inaccurate to claim that the general norms are applicable to not all of the internet resources. They are in place and are especially applicable to the technological aspects of the cyberspace usage.
Cyberspace is also a vast compilation of information that provides broad opportunities for intelligence operations. The big powers are using adeptly the resources of the cyberspace and act in line with own military, economic and political interests. The U.S. officials deny spying activity in the cyberspace aimed at gaining economic dividends. Whereas according to the National Security Agency former employee Edward Snowden’s revelations, America has used cyberspace for the sake of own economic interests overseas. The U.S. consistently accuses China of conducting hacker attacks. Russia has interests of its own. The country’s military doctrine allows for military operations in the cyberspace.
Cyber-attacks are one of the most viable threats of the modern times. It is nothing new. Modern cyberspace prompts a need for bolstering the security system from the standpoint of the national interests because computer and internet technologies are commonly used in the management of many crucial areas and they may well be interrupted by a cyber-attack at any moment.
Hackers (initially the hackers were the individuals with great proficiency in programing. Eventually individuals that put those skills into use for illegal and harmful activity became known as the hackers) are capable of paralyzing vital government systems and military assets. Governments are oftentimes helpless in confronting this threat. Therefore, some countries and international organizations highlight the need to forge a security system in the cyberspace.
The ongoing processes in the world – terror, wars and economic standoffs have ushered in new phrases into our dictionary, such as “cyberwar”, “cyberterrorism” and “cyber espionage”. Unlike conventional arms, the means used for cyber warfare are also employed in the peaceful times, with one of the key features being availability not to just governments, but also to the terrorists, the criminal world and certain individuals.
So, what is the cyber warfare? It offers more efficient and destructive strike, as opposed to the explosion on the street, the tanks and a bloodshed. As time passed, many countries realized that warfare can be conducted in the virtual space as well. This space is regarded as the fifth action domain (after land, sea, air and cosmic space). Cyberspace is becoming a venue for confrontations and wars. Cyberwar is an irrefutable event and it is not a war fought between the computers. It is a war with serious implications and it can lead to disasters.
Rivalry between different nations and organizations is also observed in the internet. The cyberspace, being the beating pulse of the world, websites and social networks more often than not turn into conflict spaces and places where most issues are resolved. Some nations, seeking informational advantage, opt to protect their assets by damaging rival networks, sometimes with dire consequences.
Monitoring the process in the cyberspace and certain integration are among the requirements of this day and age. In that sense, there are many realities, sometimes well beyond our control, that impel our involvement with certain events. Thus, a defense system protecting against any threat emanating from the cyberspace must be in the swift response mode and resources provided by the cyberspace, internet and social networks must be used in a well-considered and efficient manner.