If you think about cybersecurity today, there is one concept that you cannot miss – nation states.
Nation States are relatively new concept in the world history: it began in the late Middle Age and reached its highs in the late 19th and early 20th century. First notions and importance of nations and their relationship with the state was not visible until the late 18th century and French Revolution. Industry Revolution sparked the growth of nationalist ideals – regional differences disappeared, and people began to identify and affiliate themselves with a nation, instead of regions or ranks in the society. Nations were formed from the ethnic groups with an explicit understanding or belonging together and desire to have a common political will. On the other hand, state was formed to perform important societal functions like education, public health, and welfare. Concept of state was rarely connected to the concept of nation – our history is teaching us that in some cases creation of nation states was a significant issue at that point of time and it is still a major and legitimate source of concern.
During the early 20th century there was more progress in defining the relationship between the state and nation – driving the notion of nation toward the people notion. It became obvious that people…
“have the right to choose the form of government under which they will live to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security” (Roosevelt).
Here, people referred to the state population of any state, nation or not, but there is drive toward international cooperation and economic growth. Concept of supra-nations became popular with the introduction of United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, but also with the later organization like European Union. Those organizations called for joint approach in promoting security, development and trade that span across different states and different nations, rendering the individual role of specific state less important, and looking for a multilateralism to support the globalization.
Not every state, country, government, or nation was satisfied with the outcomes of the globalization and results that they benefited from the creation of supra national organizations. Globalization mostly succeeded in leveling global inequality, but it also created a problem within the states – creating the inequality between the people thanks to the effects of the globalization. The effects of the globalization became the major conflicting points for many states, like economic migrations, free trade, or ecological matters. Raising altruism, patriotism, solidarity between and beyond classes were crucial in forming and growing nation states, looking to protect individual state interests over the globally connected individuals, organizations or countries that are imposing their own interests over the nation state.
With recent de-globalization events, the notion of nation state is becoming important again, but that should not be a surprise since underneath the surface of globalization, nation-states never went away. Today, nation-states are expressing their importance and power through many different activities, regionally and globally, influencing the political and economic events of their own nation and nations that surround them. One of the most recent tools for achievement of nation state goals is the formation of nation-state cyber threat actors. Those actors are not usually interested in financial gain, but nation-states are looking for information stored in government and other entities data systems as a target-rich environment for intelligence gathering and espionage, but also as a basis for the cyber-attacks that are targeting critical infrastructures of the target country.
One of the most common targets of nation state attacks is national critical infrastructures – functioning of civil society is very much dependent on the proper functioning of national critical infrastructures as defined by specific country. Lets dive in that connection in the next one.