Chatham House report warns of the growing threat of cyber criminals

National strategy must be reviewed and adapted in order to take proper account of cyber warfare, a new Chatham House report warned.

As cyber warfare continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it is extremely likely that it will be an important part of conflict between states in years to come, said the report. “Losses and gains made in cyberspace could have a fundamental effect on strategic thinking and the conduct of warfare as the virtual and digital parameters of conflict are added to the physical and territorial parameters.”

The report found that cyber warfare allows criminals to achieve their political and strategic goals without the need for armed conflict, and gives disproportionate power to otherwise insignificant criminals.

Furthermore, cyber criminals are able to act with anonymity and with relative impunity by operating behind false IP addresses, foreign servers and aliases.

The report also states that cyberspace should be viewed as the “fifth battlespace”, after the more traditional means of land, air, sea and space.

The Cyber Warfare report comes at a key moment in the development of national and international views about cyber security. It aims to clarify many of the poorly-defined concepts and terms used in relation to cyber warfare and help policy-makers to better appreciate the threat landscape, as well as current and future challenges.

Chatham house concluded that close cooperation between the US and the UK in intelligence and military matters has extended into cyberspace, allowing both nations to influence the domain in a way that is difficult, if not impossible, for any other bilateral partnership or alliance to match.