Barriers to Entry: Are They Lower for Cyber Warfare?

Dublin Core


Barriers to Entry: Are They Lower for Cyber Warfare?


Denning explores the difference between cyberspace and kinetic domains of warfare (sea, air, space and land). Specifically, she analyzes whether operations in cyberspace have a lower barrier to entry than the land domain. She examines two factors: costs and effects.

The Georgian and Estonian cyber incidents are two of her main examples. She concludes that cyberwar costs are much cheaper than kinetic weapons. Also, most cyber attacks (e.g. denial of service and web defacements) are fairly harmless. However, Dennings does give a damaging example stating that someone could take out emergency 911 systems. Yet, as a whole, the cost of cyber attacks is low.

To examine the effects of cyber and kinetic warfare, Dennings discusses physical damage. Even though cyber attacks have not caused physical damage, she believes that there is potential for that to happen. Denning also states that someone may join a cyber militia rather than a physical militia that uses guns and bombs. Denning's article is unique because it compares and contrasts cyberwar and kinetic war. She does not necessarily make a solid conclusion, but her article states that cyber attacks are not as destructive as kinetic attacks. In order to answer the question, "Are barriers to entry lower for cyberwar?" one would have to analyze specific operations (which have not yet occurred).

To gather more information about the Georgia cyber attack, go here in the Think-tank Collection.




April 2009



Dorothy Denning, "Barriers to Entry: Are They Lower for Cyber Warfare?," in Cyberwar Resources Guide, Item #147, (accessed November 30, 2021).