In the aftermath of the Sergei Skripal poisoning, which sent relations between the UK and Russia tumbling, the UK made clear its intention to retaliate with a cyberattack. This is emblematic of the new reality we are faced with: information-based combat has become a mainstream way to escalate geopolitical tensions and even wage war.
First there was land, then sea, air and space. Now conflict has entered its fifth dimension: cyberspace. As Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson describes it, Britain has entered a “new era of warfare”.
The idea that bullets and missiles can be replaced with an information-based, non-physical form of combat is an uncomfortable one. This is particularly so given that national economies, and indeed our lives, are now driven by data. The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) has created a world in which we seek to have as much personal data as possible shared between the devices we rely on to make daily tasks more manageable.