Cyber Attacks Go Beyond Espionage:
The Strategic Logic of State-sponsored Cyber Operations in the Nordic-Baltic Region
Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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Nordic-Baltic region has digitized its critical infrastructures and
decision-making processes, awareness of the resulting geopolitical
vulnerabilities has lagged behind.
There is a
need to understand that cyber operations have strategic aims that go beyond
mere snooping and spying. They are effective at spreading mistrust, blackmail,
and destabilization, and at showcasing the perpetrator’s capabilities and
serving its deterrence purposes.
scales used to evaluate the severity of a cyber attack usually focus on
physical or economic damage, overlooking the real significance of
politically-motivated cyber attacks. For example, the damage caused by rigging
an election process goes far beyond some of the physical harm scenarios.
operations are particularly effective in combination with other political
pressuring tools. The spectrum of these combinatorial tools is still relatively
restricted. Yet the worrying aspect is that this synergic spectrum can widen
and lead to cyber escalation, in which case the level of harm caused by the
cyber operations will become higher and more prolonged, especially in the
to be seen whether a higher state of cyber resilience can be achieved without
active means for cyber deterrence such as stronger political shaming, economic
sanctions, or active cyber deterrence-building.