Yuan Yi, a military expert from the Chinese PLA Military Academy of Sciences, published an article discussing the strategy of cyberspace deterrence.
The author stated, “As human society’s dependence on cyberspace is deepening, cyberspace is becoming the ‘second living space’ of human beings and the ‘fifth-dimensional battle space’ of military confrontation. Surrounding the controlling power over cyberspace, countries throughout the world are competing fiercely. Competition in cyberspace has reached a level equivalent to survival involving a country’s fate and the success of its military struggles.”
Regarding how to develop cyberattack deterrence, the author emphasized long-term preparation. The article said, “‘Rome was not built in a day.’ The successful implementation of cyberspace deterrence requires a combination of peace and war. It is [important] to have detailed preparation on an ongoing basis. First, we must conduct a comprehensive and thorough network reconnaissance, gradually find out the basic situation of the enemy’s network, draw a topology map, and find out all the vulnerabilities of both the software and hardware systems of the enemy. Second we must to carry out a large number of effective strategic presets. Using hacking tools, we must secretly penetrate into the enemy’s various networks, leaving the back door [open], set the stepping stones, and plant logic bombs and Trojans, so as to leave breakthrough points for launching future cyberattacks. Third, to minimize losses, we must have prepared cyber defenses in case of the enemy’s revenge.”
Talking about the strategy for cyberspace deterrence, the author summed it up as "show but not declare; declare but not show." "‘Show but not declare’ is, by utilizing the fact that it is difficult to track the location of cyberattacks, to launch cyberattacks on specific targets but not announce one’s own identity. By doing so, it shows one’s ability but, at the same time, the enemy can only speculate as to the source of the attack and cannot come up with evidence. "Declare but not show" is to publicize or ‘inadvertently’ disclose one’s own research or advanced network warfare equipment such models, performance, and features, while deliberately exaggerating their operational effectiveness. Thus the enemy will be unable to figure out our true strength and this will produce a deterrent effect. Cyber warfare operations are difficult to trace and it is difficult to find evidence. Therefore, the initiator can choose to admit, totally deny, or put the blame on civil hackers.”
Source: People’s Daily, January 6, 2016