Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

Dr Ji-Jen Hwang

Ji-Jen Hwang

Project summary

In recent years, the dramatic growth of internet usage has triggered an increasing interest in cyberspace. People are already becoming accustomed to dealing with their affairs in virtual cyberspace instead of in a real environment.

Accordingly cyberspace potentially binds together the governmental and societal sectors, as they are both constructed on the same virtual information platform.

However, as the Chinese idiom states: while water can carry a boat, it may also capsize it. That is to say, a state gains benefits from relying heavily on the internet and is thus ‘carried’, but in doing so, it becomes more vulnerable to being ‘capsized’ by the many attacks, crimes and terrorist acts generated through the medium of cyberspace.

Meanwhile, recent research indicates that ‘the sophisticated information technologies on which the best armed forces, and all modern societies, now rely pose an attractive target to potential adversaries.’ (Baylis et al., 2007:139)

Thus, tackling the impact of the growth of cyberspace as a potential battleground is an essential issue for states in the digital age.

Traditionally, a state is protected inside its geographic territory surrounded by physical borders – natural barriers such as rivers, oceans, straits, mountains, and special terrain. However, the geographical protection of a state is far removed from cyberspace.

Thus, each state needs new strategic approaches to guard its relevant surroundings. Traditional thinking about the existing doctrines of military strategy will consequently be challenged based on this new assumption.

In addition, a state’s policy regarding strategy and security will need to be re-thought accordingly.

Primarily, the aim of this research is to probe how the growth of cyberspace as a potential battleground challenges existing doctrines of military strategy.

The study will start in particular from investigations in practice-oriented areas such as military strategies and existing policies.

Relevant theories drawn from international relations and information studies will further inform this research. Accordingly new guidelines of defence strategy for states will be suggested. Taiwan will be used as a case study to reflect further upon cyber defence.