As governments become increasingly involved in cyberspace for military purposes, they tend to consider the cyber domain as critical part of their security strategies. This growing reliance on cyber assets calls for deeper investigation on the features of cyberspace as well as their impact on state rivalry. The paper draws from the insights of Offence/Defense Balance (ODB) theory to discuss whether competition in cyberspace may become an incentive to the use of force. In particular, ODB theory postulates that whenever defense is (or is held to be) more expensive relative do offense, states will have an incentive to act aggressively. Unfortunately, three features of cyberspace give offense an advantage over defense: the central place of vulnerabilities, the different pace of improvements for defense and offense technologies, the difficulty in attribution. The main conclusion of this argument is that the cyber-attacks in the future are likely to become more and more common
Original languageEnglish
PublisherMilano : ISPI Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Cyberwarfare
  • offence-defence balance


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