World (Cyber)War III

Peter W. Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution, said 100 nations are building cyber military commands of that there are about 20 that are serious players, and a smaller number could carry out a whole cyberwar campaign. And the fear is that by emphasising their offensive capabilities, governments will up the ante for everyone else.

“We are seeing some of the same manifestations of a classic arms race that we saw in the Cold War or prior to World War One. The essence of an arms race is where the sides spend more and more on building up and advancing military capabilities but feel less and less secure — and that definitely characterises this space today,” he said.

Politicians may argue that building up these skills is a deterrent to others, and emphasise such weapons would only be used to counter an attack, never to launch one. But for some, far from scaring off any would-be threats, these investments in offensive cyber capabilities risk creating more instability.

“In international stability terms, arms races are never a positive thing: the problem is it’s incredibly hard to get out of them because they are both illogical [and] make perfect sense,” Singer said.