Cyberspace & Outer Space Are New Frontiers For National Security

Outer space and cyberspace have something in common, and it is that they are both the new frontiers for national security. This blurs what has been the traditional ideas of defence strategy, borders, and sovereignty. These two areas are critical infrastructure and are essential for a country to be secure and able to defend itself.

However, their double use character means that they can both be used for civilian and military purposes. 

Why Sovereignty Is Important

As a political and legal concept, Sovereignty refers to a country’s authority to control issues in its jurisdiction, such as bypassing and enforcing laws. Historically, geography determined the extent of a country's jurisdiction. However, outer space and cyberspaces don’t have border limitations like territorial spaces do. 

Within Sovereignty is the power to hand over some sovereign rights, like countries agreeing to reduce their actions for international cooperation on national security and human rights. 

Outer space and cyberspace enhance a country’s defence and the capabilities of its national security. However, countries remain vulnerable because of the overdependence on continuous access. While both can bring unity and a shared vision for humanity, they're also a source of discord and tension between countries and can be misused in conducting wars. 

Cyberspace

The world depends so much on the Internet, which has affected efforts to make cybersecurity more effective. There is usually a new threat for every solution, creating vulnerabilities for the country’s national security and defence. While everyone agrees that international laws apply to cyber activities too, there are issues over how. This has led to debates about the cyber activities of the military and what is considered peaceful or acceptable, or the ones that are prohibited and may lead to war. 

However, the difference between permitted cyber operations and those carried out in preparations for disruptive operations. They both involve the unauthorized use of computer networks and systems in another country.

Outer Space

This is another major challenge. The possible weaponization and militarization of outer space is a significant challenge for all countries’ national defence and security. The laws governing outer space prevent celestial bodies from being used for any other peaceful purposes and forbid mass destructive weapons from being placed in outer space. So countries have liabilities and responsibilities set on them by this treaty. So, governments must promote responsible use of outer space and minimise the possibility of starting conflicts. 

There were opinions initially about using outer space peacefully, meaning that it can only be used for non-military activities instead of non-aggressive activities, which are permissible. However, the reality of the situation is that countries have been using outer space to carry out terrestrial military activities, and this will only continue to happen. 

The Gulf War in 1991 is commonly regarded as a space war – the first one. It is evident now that satellite technology has become a big part of the modern-day military strategy for many countries. 

Space Sovereignty

Currently, there are about 80 countries with some level of capability for sovereign space, such as the ability to launch and operate their satellites independently. However, this means that nearly two-thirds of the countries in the world lack any form of national space capabilities. They depend entirely on other countries to access space and space infrastructure. They cannot leverage space technology for their development, and their well-being depends on geopolitical and strategic understandings and networks. 

Even countries like Australia - a vital space participant - have limited sovereign capabilities for earth observations, space launches, GPS, and other crucial activities. It is not economically feasible for the country to depend on other countries entirely in all aspects of space. This is why they developed a twin policy that ensures space access through strategic alliances with other carefully selected spacefaring countries. At the same time, they build their sovereign space capabilities further in these specific areas. The government understands that this is crucial to its national defence and security interests. 

A 2019 report by the IISS ranking the cyber power of certain countries suggested that the national agencies of these countries are going to become more cyber-focused. This report also had substantial evidence to show that cyber capabilities and policies have taken the centre stage of international security. 

Cyberspace dominance has always been a strategic goal for the US since the 1990s. It already has a massive global footprint in the military and civil use of cyberspace. And it’s now being threatened by Russia and China on this front. 

Conclusion

Countries must address the intersection between outer space and cyberspace for their security and defence policies. These domains have participants from both military and civilian acts, and more possibilities are multiplying. Understanding the close intersection between outer space and cybersecurity technology puts the country in the best position for an integrated and effective national defence and security. 

Eliza Sadler is a professional journalist with extensive experience, presently working as a college paper writer.

Image: Unsplash

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