What is an Asymmetric Threat?

Asymmetric Threat

The term asymmetric refers to an unequal balance or when thinking about threats, an unfair advantage to the perpetrator. Phillips, A (2012) provided an excellent overview of what an asymmetric threat is. He described attacks of this nature to be undetectable, and once occurred, impossible to determine its origin. Rubin (2007) further elaborates on this concept by defining the term asymmetry as that which focuses on placing one strength against an adversary’s weaknesses, even when the overall forces may favor the adversary. This is opposed to traditional combative threats, which require much more planning, financial means and well-coordinated execution through military groups.

When considering asymmetric threats in the context of cyber warfare, it is essential to consider counter measures. How do we combat a threat we cannot see coming? Phillips (2012) stresses the importance of fostering a more educated cyber security workforce that can be better equipped to detect and mitigate such threats. Long (2008) discusses the importance of applying lessons learned from past attacks, and updating our policy mindsets realizing asymmetrical threats will not be counted successfully by force alone. Long also points to the importance of a multi-faceted approach including corporation of international community. In addition to this, the government and business organizations will need to continue building out stronger cyber defenses and protections including multi-layered approaches and strategies for continuous mitigation. Regardless of strategy, it is clear that demand will continue to increase for skilled personnel who will be able to lead the way in these efforts.


Image Credits: Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash.

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