Segurança e Defesa

Complex Issues on Cyberwarfare, by Elói Martins Senhoras, Fransllyn Sellynghton Silva do Nascimento e Yolanda Nunes Sousa

Cyber warfare has traditionally been referred to a multiplicity of cyber conflicts related not only to micro, isolated and decentralized actions or networks of cyber attacks, cybercrimes, and, cyber terrorism, but also and increasingly to centralized dynamics of state intervention in the cyberspace through cyber defense and cyber intelligence.

Taking for reference the complex structures of the emergent new pattern of warfare due to the upcoming of new technologies, policymakers and epistemic comminutes address alerts about the new security threats in the national and international relations which have been spread in the cyberspace by the actions of individuals, organizations, and states.

Indeed, virtual space spills impacts over the other traditional arenas of conflict such as land, sea, air and airspace due to the interface connections with the real world, despite it represents itself as a new arena for the developments of warfare with a progressive use, not only projecting old patterns of material impact, but also new kinds of cyberconflicts.

An exploratory overview in the globe shows that national and international borders or even limits between real and virtual world have been compressed by cyberspace as a locus of a 5th generation of war when different stakeholders conduct conflicts played by individuals, small groups, organizations, big networks, or, even countries and when Security, Defense and Intelligence policies cross-over their functions against the new threats with questionable efficiency and legitimacy.

In one hand, a multiplicity of stakeholders in the cyberspace shows that new Technologies of Information and Communication (TICs) have diminished the operational sovereignties of the countries due to the actions of free riders in the cyberspace such as crackers (criminal intention) and hackers (activists, cyberterrorists and state soldiers) that turn internet into a complex problem like an iceberg with a 20% visible web (unencrypted information) and a 80% deep web (encrypted information) (PAGNANI, 2012).

Very few actions of damage used in the cyberspace truly represent declarations of war to countries, although most of them constitute criminal, ideological or political acts with high negative impacts on civil society, explaining the reason for a widespread increase trend of securitization of the cyberspace due to the influence of certain speeches act of political and self-referencing nature created by the Complexes of Information Security.

Thus, modern state sovereign embodied by internal civil rights constructions falls into a contradictory crisis due to the large gap that has being opened between political speech and security policies by Intelligence and Espionage as centralizer growing forcers over individual interests in order to preserve order and promote national interest against asymmetric threats.

Some polarization concepts such as national and international security or individual and national interests have changed position or even passed by dangerous hybridization processes for the public policy in the context of a growing promotion of cybersecurity through a Big Brother State, regardless the different nature of criminal intentions generated by crackers in order to get economic gains in comparison to an ample range of political and ideological intentions from hackers.

In the other hand, the active participation of some countries in the non-kinetic world through espionage, sabotage and preventive interventions of cyberatack or cyberdefense has reintroduced a problem for the use o force by states due to their return to a non regulated jus ad bellum stage focused on the rights of states to make wars or properly cyberwars.

The affected intra-national and inter-national interests in the kinetic world by cyberwars have not only split the multilateral consensus of the jus in bellum principle promoted by United Nations to restrict the use of force but also engendered a new pattern of warfare with dangerous contours to the individual rights due to the use of the most modern technologies for a security agenda purpose.

State actions in the cyberspace manifest profound impacts in the future of warfare in the long run due to the path dependence constructed overtime, mainly in the case of an hegemonic country like the United States that has structurally changed in the modern times and played a decisive role to the new trends and threats despite not always positive (SENHORAS et al., 2013).

First, by the 1950s, after the II World War, the construction of the Industrial Military Complex of Defense through scale and mass production of machinery and weapons for a massive warfare in a conflictive dynamics of a bipolar world split by the United States and the Soviet Union.

Second, the relative downsizing of the Armed Forces through special contracts and outsourcing, redesign of forces and capabilities in a context of not only gains of scope in the lean production of machinery but also of progressive transference of military technology to civilian use with the techno-scientific revolution of the 1980 and 1990s.

Third, the emergence of a current Security Complex of Information that has been fed by Intelligence and Espionage due to the development of cyberwarfare, and also the use of smaller and more precise machinery such as drones simultaneously to the trends of privatization of war since 9/11.

Throughout these discusses subsidies have been supplied for a better understanding of the complex impacts of cybernetics and informatics in the society due to the pulverization of power in a wide range of actors since the state to the individuals who are not only moved by a number of different interests but also make use of different strategies. 


BELLINTANI, Adriana Iob. BELINTANI, Mauro. (2013). A Guerra: do século XIX aos nossos dias. Boa Vista: Editora UFRR, 2013.

CARR, Jeffrey. (2012). Inside Cyber Warfare: Mapping the Cyber Underworld. 2nd Ed. Sebastopol: O’Reilly.

PAGANINI, Pierluigi. (2012). “What is the Deep Web? A first trip into the abyss”. Security Affairs, May, 2012.

SENHORAS, Eloi Martins et al. (2013). “O Brasil frente às ameaças cibernéticas”. Anais do X Congresso Acadêmico sobre Defesa Nacional. Rio de Janeiro: Escola Naval, 2013.

  Chart 1 – Positioning cyberwar era





States Hackers; organizations; States.

Operational Theater

Centered Decentered


State Networks


Four arenas Five Arenas


Military Training Civilian and military training


Symmetric Asymmetric


Large military apparatus Autonomous units with high technology.


I, II World War, Cold War 9/11; cyber attacks
   Source: BELLINTANI and BELLANTINI (2013). Author’s Adaptation.


Elói Martins Senhoras é economista e cientista político, especialista, mestre, doutor e pós-doutorando em Ciências Jurídicas. É professor universitário em cursos de graduação e pós-graduação da Universidade Federal de Roraima – UFRR (
Fransllyn Sellynghton Silva do Nascimento é graduando em Relações Internacionais e pesquisador do Núcleo Amazônico de Pesquisa em Relações Internacionais – NAPRI pela Universidade Federal de Roraima – UFRR (
Yolanda Nunes Sousa é graduanda em Relações Internacionais e pesquisadora do Núcleo Amazônico de Pesquisa em Relações Internacionais – NAPRI pela Universidade Federal de Roraima – UFRR (

Professor e pesquisador da área de política externa brasileira do Instituto de Relações Internacionais da Universidade de Brasília (iREL-UnB). É editor da Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional - RBPI ( e de Meridiano 47 ( Pesquisador do Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq).

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