The Cyberspace Dimension in Armed Conflict: Approaching a Complex Issue with Assistance of the Morphological Method

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Myriam Dunn


Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 7, p.145-158 (2001)


cyber warfare; morphology; human mind as target; neocortical warfare; information attacks; international law., Internet in conflict situations; new conflict environment; proliferation of voices; information operations; information warfare; cyberspace


In recent years, newly emerging actors, an ongoing redistribution of power relationships with volatile distribution patterns, and changes in military affairs have created a variety of fascinating multifaceted issues. One emerging topic is the role of Cyberspace in armed conflict, a complex problem that incorporates various non-quantifiable technical, social, and cultural components. The domain of information attacks, in particular, is presently considered a pressing national and international security issue, especially in the absence among many actors of any understanding of the real dangers and risks and steps necessary to overcome them. There is a demand for systematic exploration of the role of the Internet in the future of warfare in order to develop likely scenarios for its use and impacts, to sharpen the understanding of the issue and to facilitate necessary policy decisions. The morphological approach that is proposed in the article can overcome some of the methodological difficulties inherent in multipart problem complexes, as it is used for structuring and investigating the totality of relationships contained in complex interdisciplinary problems.
The paper suggests a morphological box for additional analysis of the topic and subsequently justifies the selection of the four parameters – 1) actors involved; 2) intentions/ objectives; 3) level at which the effort takes effect; 4) impact of the use of the Internet – and the value of each parameter. It seems that the information attack dimension is especially likely to set fundamental precedents for approaches to information operations, the use of the Internet as a tool for warfare, the laws of war, and international law. There appears to be an essential need to protect civilians from too much involvement and from becoming targets of new forms of warfare featuring the targeting of civilian installations or worse, the targeting of the human mind. More systematic analysis is needed to explore the full extent of the problem in a political context and to establish steps towards reaching satisfactory solutions.

Last updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2019