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Cyber Warfare Paper/Game

I have collected various sources including books, journal articles and papers about cyber warfare. These sources cover theory as well as practical applications of cyber warfare in intelligence, security and battlefield operations. Each author has a different definition of cyber warfare and opinion of its level of independence from other forms of warfare – a ‘fifth domain’. However, there is plenty of common ground to use as a foundation for designing a cyber warfare game. The most notable overlap in books about cyber warfare is the use of Clausewitzian theory as a root from which definitions are derived. This being the case, any design I create should adhere to this fundamental theory. The game should cover cyber warfare’s political, social and military influence, but remain accessible if it is to be used for educational purposes as well as being played by enthusiasts.


I have created a first draft of a high concept document. Some work needs to be done and I shall update it as required.

Cyber Warfare Game

High Concept Statement

War is the continuation of policy by other means. The sentiment is the same, but the game has changed. In the global information infrastructure, threats do not appear in splendid uniforms.

Features List

·        Intelligence Analysis - follow the clues, attribute the attack to another player.

·        Multiple Scenarios - different nations and NGOs have different objectives that can overlap, making attribution that much harder.

·        Multiplayer - players are pitted against each other in an attempt to complete their objectives whilst attempting to deter cyber attacks from other players.

·        Cyber Warfare Ubiquity - options for the player will cover a range of CW capabilities.

·        Disparity - players will have to cope with different levels of technology that may limit their options.

Player Motivation

The ultimate objective for the player is to resolve the crisis presented in the scenario, without it resulting in war. To achieve this, the player must successfully attribute the cyber attack to another player. At the same time, he will be tasked with completing secondary objectives that may draw blame to himself. In prosecution of these actions, players will have a range of cyber-themed mechanics available to draw out as much information as possible about the other players' capabilities, interests and objectives.




Target Customer





None known. Needs more research.

Unique Selling Points

Easy to play Cyber Warfare game.

Easy to understand.

Educational value.

Target Hardware


Design Goals

Educational - players should be able to grasp concepts of CW from this abstract game.

Investigation - players need to find and track 'clues' themselves, making them do all the detective work rather than laying it out for them.

Flexible Scenario - matrix games offer the most flexibility when it comes to exploring a subject via a game. However, these require a knowledgeable umpire and a lot of time and research. This game should be able to convey key concepts in quick time.

Further Details

Players have an attack target. The other player must attribute the main attack to whom they think is responsible. This process is made more complicated by all players performing intelligence gathering and other operations against each other.



Al-Ahmad, W., 2013. A Detailed Strategy For Managing Corporation Cyber War Security. International Journal of Cyber-Security and Digital Forensics, 2(4), p. 1.

Bohemia Interactive Simulations, 2014. Virtual Battlespace 3. s.l.:Bohemia Interactive Simulations.

Bohemia Interactive, 2002. Virtual Battlespace. s.l.:Bohemia Interactive, Coalescent Technologies.

Clarke, R. A., 2016. The Risk of Cyber War and Cyber Terrorism. Journal of International Affairs, 70(1), p. 179.

Clarke, R. A. & Knake, R. K., 2012. Cyber War: The Next Threat To National Security and What To Do About It. s.l.:Ecco.

Clausewitz, C. v., 1997. On War. Ware: Wordsworth Editions Limited.

Doherty, K. R., 2017. The Art of (Cyber) War. Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 29(6), p. 16.

Hofmann, M. A., 2016. Thinking Through the Threat of Cyber War. Business Insurance, 50(12), p. 14.

Kaplan, F. M., 2016. Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber Warfare. s.l.:Simon and Schuster.

Krebsbach, K., 2007. After Estonia Cyber Attacks, U.S Frets Over Potential Cyber War. US Banker, 117(7), p. 16.

Lobel, H., 2012. Cyber War Inc.: The Law of War Implications of the Private Sector's Role in Cyber Conflict. Texas International Law Journal, 47(2-3), p. 617.

Maj. YuLin Whitehead, U., 1997. Information as a Weapon: Reality versus Promises. [Online]
Available at: http://www.au.af.mil/au/afri/aspj/airchronicles/apj/apj97/fal97/whitehead.htm

Mazanec, B. M., 2015. The Evolution of Cyber War: International Norms for Emerging-Technology Weapons. s.l.:Potomac Books.

Perla, P. P., 1990. The Art of Wargaming: A Guide for Professionals and Hobbyists. s.l.:Naval Institute Press.

Rid, T., 2013. Cyber War Will Not Take Place. s.l.:Oxford University Press.

Sabin, P., 2012. Simulating War: Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games. s.l.:Continuum International Publishing Group.

Shakarian, P., Shakarian, J. & Ruef, A., 2013. Introduction to Cyber Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach. s.l.:Elsevier, Inc.

Singer, P., 2014. Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs To Know. s.l.:Oxford University Press.

Slayton, R., 2017. What Is the Cyber Offense-Defense Balance? Conceptions, Causes, and Assessment. International Security, 41(3), pp. 72-109.

Stange, S., 2015. Seven Things You Need To Know About Cyber Wars. Software World, 46(2), p. 8.

Waltz, E., 1998. Information Warfare: Principles and Operations. s.l.:Artech House, Inc.

Wittes, B. & Blum, G., 2015. The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones, Confronting a New Age of Threat. s.l.:Basic Books.

Entries in this blog


Cyber Warfare Game continued 3

Testing of my cyber warfare game highlighted a number of issues with the game. Firstly, players complained that there was a lack of information to utilise when try to identify the player that was the aggressor. To make matters worse, the lack of information was made a moot point when it was discovered that the events list did allowed all players to easily detect who the aggressor was. This was because if a player performed an attack, then their name would not be displayed on the events list, making it obvious that they were the aggressor. To tackle these problems, I changed some of the events in the events widget so that the text displayed was just three dots and so didn’t name anyone that wasn’t being active on their turn. This hid actions quite well. To give the players a bit more information to go on, I added an info widget to the bottom left of the HUD. With this, the players can cycle through all nations to see their stability and infrastructure stats, but not political power stats. This helped with attribution (identification), although on testing a second time it significantly increased the number of successful identifications. Attribution of cyber-attacks is supposed to be difficult. It may be because there are only four actors at play that an identification can be made. Expanding the number of actors involved in the game, and giving each a set of objectives would greatly increase the margin for error, but would also make the game more complex and time consuming. This would not be good for a game meant to be used in a classroom. Another issue players experienced was poor turn management. There was no way of indicating which turn the players were on. It was difficult to notice when it was a new turn because sometimes stats would not increase or events would be the same as the previous turn. Thus, I added a turn counter so the players could see when the turn had changed. I also added a ready list so that players could moan at the person who was dawdling at pressing the ready button. These changes were welcomed and the second testing session saw the players stick around for more runs of the game than the previous one. I adjusted values as well in an attempt to achieve a better balance. Normistan is still the worst nation to play as, because political power accumulates slowly for them at the start of the game. The base value for accumulating political power was doubled, and I reduced the costs of some actions so that they could be used before the game was over. As it stands, the project needs to have a lot of changes made to it for it to be a practical educational tool. Ideas and principles about cyber warfare that I have attempted to convey through this game, have been warped by the results of the games. Again, I believe this is because the game has so few players. Other problems include only two objective types. The fact that there is one aggressor and three players out to get him means that the attacker, who is supposed to be the powerful one in the scenario, is in fact watching his back as his efforts to complete his objectives will be noticed very quickly; unless everyone spends ten turns doing nothing which did happen a couple of times. That being said, I do believe that the project has potential and that further study and effort on it will produce a much more accurate and informative experience. Had I started testing a lot earlier, many of the kinks in the design could have been addressed to a higher standard. Nonetheless, players were actually having fun with the game (during the second testing session when I had improved it somewhat) despite the game being lots of button presses. Phrases passed around like ‘I’m going full detective’ as players really began to try to identify the aggressor. This project has also allowed me to develop my UE4 skills and shown me that my time management skills are in dire need of improvement. But at least now I know how to set up projects to network via the internet using the Steam plugin. That proved to be quite useful for testing. I believe if I had not made the effort to set up internet multiplayer, I would not have had any data for my paper on designing the cyber warfare game. https://drive.google.com/open?id=15DZ3uJnC4m36FysTLpnq3tG1muvGwuOk Use this link to download the game and have a play around. It needs 4 players and it uses steam

Baron Bale-Out

Baron Bale-Out


Cyber Warfare Game continued 2

I have not yet been able to implement the information system into the the cyber warfare game. This was due to having to fix outstanding issues with the player actions. These actions now work correctly. The problem I had was replicating the appropriate variables to client players. I found that some variables were being replicated while others weren't and I lost many, many hours over the past two weeks trying to find a solution to the problem. Initially, I believed that the new blueprints I had added were missing connections between pins or that I had forgotten to add a particular node. Instead, the problem was incredibly mundane in that I had not taken into account that pawn and character blueprints are replicated by default whereas actors are not. As such, I could have saved myself a considerable amount of time when creating the effects system which manipulates each player's stats as I ended up passing information to the game mode in the server to apply effects from actor blueprints. If I had just noticed that damned check box I could have completed that system in much less time. The next two images show how much easier it is to make things work when you remember to click on a check box. The information I wanted form the objective actor for use in the player HUD was not accessible until the spawned objective actors were replicated from the server to clients. Of course, now that the players can interact with each other, an information system is urgently required so that players can determine who may be attempting to attack them.

Baron Bale-Out

Baron Bale-Out


Cyber Warfare Game continued

The cyber warfare game I am creating is an attempt to demonstrate abstract principles of cyber warfare. The game involves players taking actions in a series of turns in order to fulfil objectives that are ‘cyber-based’. These actions are based on real-world applications of cyber operations, including: ·        Destruction of physical assets ·        Information gathering ·        Denial of Service ·        Cyber security Again, the game is an abstract representation and so these operations are not simulated at a tactical level. The capabilities of cyber operations are too vast and focusing on any one would diminish the effectiveness of the game to instruct players in the principles behind these operations. The aspect of cyber warfare that I am having the game focus on is that of Attribution. The ubiquitous nature of cyber operations means that the likelihood of determining the origin of a cyber-attack is infinitesimal. This also means that providing concrete evidence that the perpetrator of such an attack is from a particular organisation is also unlikely. Therefore, Attribution is more important in determining the identity of an attacker and how to prevent repeated attacks than clear evidence. Intelligence analysts would attempt to determine the identity of an attacker by examining the method of attack and who can produce the software and/or hardware for the attack. Of course, the attacker will attempt to deceive the analysts by using encryption or programming methods of another party. Thus, the analyst must consider the motives and capacities of all potential aggressors. This makes attribution somewhat challenging. Although principles of cyber warfare are the focus of this game, these principles are situated within existing and well-established theory. As I am covering in my paper, the current ideas about the nature of cyber warfare draw heavily from On War by Major-General Carl von Clausewitz and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Therefore, any cyber warfare game should make considerations to the fundamental ideas as taught by the likes of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu. I began constructing the game with Clausewitz in mind and so I am having players consider and manage the political, social and military effects on the nations or organisations they are playing as. The game is played in turns. Each player chooses a target and an action to take against that target. The player will be able to affect an opponent’s national stability, information infrastructure or any of their physical or non-physical assets (as specified in the game). Taking actions produces intelligence which each player can use to determine which player is attempting to prevent him from completing his political or military objectives. To help refine the game, I have been researching Hearts of Iron IV. The game was built using the Clausewitz engine and I have been studying how the political, social and military aspects of Clausewitz’s theory have been gamified. Normally, players resort to the use of the military to deny other players from completing objectives. However, players will sometimes have focuses that when completed will deny another player from performing one of his own focuses. The recent update of the event system means that players now have another method of gaining resources or a strategic advantage or of incapacitating another player by attack his society instead of his military. Currently, players have simple actions to perform against each other that modify variables. I am now working on an information system that allows players to build a profile of the other players to determine who is attempting to stop them.  

Baron Bale-Out

Baron Bale-Out

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