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Cyber operations

(also cyberops, cyberspace operations)

Cyber operations definition

Cyber operations encompass a range of actions executed within the digital realm to safeguard, secure, or target computer networks, systems, or information. These operations can be broadly categorized as defensive cyber operations (DCO) and offensive cyber operations (OCO). Engaging in cyber operations involves utilizing computer systems, networks, and digital tools to fulfill specific goals, including protecting confidential data, undermining opponent infrastructure, or scrutinizing network activities. These activities are typically conducted by authorized entities like intelligence agencies or military organizations.

See also: packet sniffing, cyber warfare, network security protocols

Cyber operations examples

  • Defensive cyber operations: Efforts to protect and defend an organization's information systems, networks, and data from cyber threats, including implementing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption.
  • Offensive cyber operations: Actions taken in cyberspace to disrupt, degrade, or destroy adversary infrastructure, steal sensitive data, or manipulate information. Examples include cyber espionage, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and targeted malware campaigns.

Pros and cons of cyber operations


  • Enhanced security: DCOs can help protect sensitive data and secure networks against cyber threats.
  • Strategic advantage: OCOs can provide a tactical edge in geopolitical situations or help disrupt criminal organizations.


  • Escalation: OCOs can lead to retaliation and escalation of cyber conflicts, potentially causing damage to critical infrastructure or data breaches.
  • Ethical concerns: OCOs may raise ethical and legal questions, particularly when involving state-sponsored activities or collateral damage.