Volume 3 / 2020

The Convergence Puzzle:
Australia, Germany and Emerging Cybersecurity Trends

Volume 3 / 2020

This edition, a collection of contributions from Australia and Germany, is concerned with emerging trends, challenges and patterns in cybersecurity relevant for both countries.

The articles in this compilation – some are structured analysis pieces, some constitute more personal yet substantive reflections – were deliberately kept diverse in style, format and content to reflect a variety of perspectives and approaches. They were collected throughout 2019 and reflect dynamics at the time of writing (indicated above each contribution) –they were not intended to capture the most up-to-date developments. The only request to the authors was for them to offer their thoughts on what they perceived as an important issue or angle to the contemporary cybersecurity landscape. Interestingly, what stood out during the compilation process was that as a whole, the contributions seemed organically connected by the implied acknowledgement that an area of key importance is the way data is governed; this is due to its impact on our collective and individual freedoms, especially in an era of democratic disenchantment and contested global governance.

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Titled the “Convergence Puzzle”, this edited volume is framed by a conceptualization of cyberspace as a realm of converging and diverging forces and interests: technological, social, political, economic, institutional, cultural, ideational/ideological and strategic. These co-exist, compete and act upon each other - forming a complex ecosystem of dynamic, interlinked threat and opportunity vectors. As such, this overarching theme is premised on the recognition that viewing cybersecurity as a mainly technological matter would be reductionist and fail to capture the complexity of a space created and shaped by humans. Acknowledging the extent to which technology is used as a (geo)political and strategic tool, it is better viewed as a vehicle or force enabler/multiplier for human interests, in particular political, economic and strategic goals.

A further premise of this volume is that technology is not neutral but can act as a corrosive force for liberal values; as current developments show, technology is in fact being actively used to undermine democratic systems. With global powershifts manifesting in competing political models that seek to challenge the liberal order, ‘doing cybersecurity’ should hence include addressing questions of sovereignty, governmental/institutional overreach, transparency and accountability. Accordingly, what makes the space of emerging cyber dynamics a puzzle rather than just a tangle of non-linear causes and effects is the overarching goal of working out and managing the relationship between these forces in a way that aligns with the bigger picture: to make them converge in a manner that strengthens rather than undermines the foundations of liberal orders – both domestically and at the international/multilateral level. Consequently, the ‘convergence puzzle’ seeks to serve as a reminder of where the center of gravity should lie in debates on cybersecurity: in a commitment to the core of the liberal project as its best defense mechanism.

Katja Theodorakis

Head of Counterterrorism Program