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The study of cyber conflict is said to have started when the terms “cyberwar” and “netwar” were used to describe how warfare would change as technology advanced. This is a type of combat that occurs in cyberspace. The deployment of computational technology in cyberspace for malign and/or detrimental goals in order to influence, alter, or modify diplomatic and military relations between entities is referred to as cyber conflict. We concentrate on these politically driven contacts because they have a tangible influence on national security. Governments are warning against attacks on vulnerable key infrastructure, making cyber threats a priority national security issue.

In a self-help framework, power is essential to states because it ensures the state’s sovereignty and survival. Power is always the immediate goal of international politics, regardless of the ultimate objective. Cyber power is described as the capacity to achieve desired outcomes by utilizing the cyber domain’s electronically networked information resources. Its ability to change international relations has been a hot topic of discussion. Despite the fact that there is no theory of cyber power in the realist discourse, realism provides a foundation for contemplating the distribution of power among actors and how this affects conflicts.

One of realism’s central assumptions is that states are the most powerful and thus most significant agents in international affairs. The information revolution, on the other hand, undermines the state’s supremacy because of the increased engagement of non-state actors, which threatens existing power dynamics. As the theory of power diffusion suggests, non-state actors are becoming more and more crucial. This is particularly accurate in the cyber domain, where individual criminals, institutions, and terror organizations can use the internet’s accessibility to challenge the state’s power, and where private enterprises contribute a factor as both security providers and sources of susceptibility. However, we should not overestimate the importance of this issue because states remain the most powerful players in cyber conflict. Non-state actors and terrorists play a part but their techniques have largely been fruitless or have been used as a cover for states attempting to conceal their activities. It is projected that because the cost of participation in the cyber warfare arena is very inexpensive, historically weaker states will confront powerful states and reorganize the world system’s power distribution. For example, the indoctrination of thousands of hackers by North Korea and the growing proficiency of Iran’s cyber warfare methods have gotten a lot of coverage. The counterintuitive assumption that the most technologically proficient countries are simultaneously the most reliant on digital infrastructure and hence the most exposed to a disastrous cyber-attack also undermines traditional power dynamics. However, it was also asserted that only technology giants have the potential to construct the most advanced cyber weaponry. This shows that the asymmetric nature of the cyber world may be exaggerated.

Realism also prompts the concern of whether cyber capabilities provide nations with coercive power, which refers to the ability to force an enemy to submit to one’s will by inflicting or provoking damage. However, because cyber coercion lacks the destructive nature of traditional military actions and is less likely to be taken seriously, there are fundamental reservations regarding its effectiveness. Only when cyber-attacks are deployed in tandem with conventional military actions, can they be effective. Data on cyber events between adversary governments shows that coercive cyber measures targeted at altering the conduct of the target are ineffectual when compared to interruption or espionage on a smaller level.

 Still, in a number of ways, with its anarchic character and absence of institutional administration, the cyber domain mimics a realism world where governments fear each other and build capabilities in reaction. However, it’s unknown whether cyber weapons competitions will lead to cyber conflict. Realist thinking also raises important concerns regarding cyber power, who controls it, and how it affects international stability. When it comes to whether cyber power will change traditional power relations, the data suggests that it will not. The trend so far has been to avoid full-fledged cyber warfare in favor of less harmful types of cyber activity.

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Muqaddus Kundi conducts research in international relations domain. With a number of publications to her name, she harbors an interest in international affairs, global narratives and cyber warfare. She is an intern at Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, USA.

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Muqaddus Kundi conducts research in international relations domain. With a number of publications to her name, she harbors an interest in international affairs, global narratives and cyber warfare. She is an intern at Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, USA.

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