Deterrence is an ancient concept, which, in the words of former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Michael Gerson, “has always been one of the central strategic principles by which nations attempted to prevent conflict”. Judging from the world wide available offensive cyber capabilities, conflicts in cyberspace could have severe physical consequences in the near future. This confronts the international community in general, and the Netherlands in particular, with its duty to maintain the international legal order and prevent conflict. One way to prevent conflict is by deterring it. Deterrence means convincing the opponent not to attack you, either because he believes an attack will not be successful, or because an initially successful attack will be punished so severely, that all of the original gains will eventually be outweighed by the losses. Deterrence exists by virtue of offensive capabilities, in other words by the power to hurt. The Netherlands’ government aim to prevent conflict by developing deterrence capabilities underscores this principle. The Netherlands has created a Cyber Command within its armed forces, tasked with developing and deploying cyber capabilities, including offensive capabilities. The question is to what extent these offensive cyber capabilities can contribute to the deterrence of conflict.


time: 11:30

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