The Case for Cyber and Cyber-Physical Weapons: India’s Grand Strategy and Diplomatic Goals

A number of countries today possess offensive cyber capabilities, notably the United States, Israel, Russia, China, North Korea, Syria and Iran. Their range and sophistication vary widely: no two cyber weapons are likely to be the same, as they are conceived and deployed for a specific project or purpose. Using or maintaining an arsenal of such weapons, however, does not necessarily signal the presence of a cyber doctrine. For instance, while the United States has numerous official directives to guide its cyber-offensive operations, it is unclear whether China or Syria, which possess limited capabilities in this area, has comparable strategies. In particular, no Asian country has declared either its cyber capabilities or doctrines to manage their cyber and cyber-physical weapons. Given this lack of clarity, Indian military and policy planners should assess whether geo-political tensions in Asia will spill over into cyberspace, or if the inter-connected character of digital networks raises the economic stakes too high for a cyber conflict.

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Arun Mohan Sukumar