What is cyberspace?

Some people view cyberspace as a set of computers and the wires connecting them; others view it as a source of readily available inexpensive information; others view it as a marketing space designed to facilitate their sales and increase profits; and yet others apparently view it as a target-rich space for committing crimes with little risk of being caught and punished. Instinctively, by cyberspace we generally mean the same recently evolved phenomenon, but we often imply different aspects of it. This may be acceptable for general discussions, but for specific work in the security field we need more precision.

But formulating a precise single definition of cyberspace is difficult at this time when we are just beginning to understand the concept. What seems to be clear is that cyberspace is an information and communications space. It is an abstract space. Indeed, cyberspace is where information exists and is stored, processed, and communicated with certain laws and rules applied.

Recognition of cyberspace can be attributed to development and growth of the Internet, but they are not the same. Cyberspace is a much broader concept while the Internet is a part of it. As consumers of information we don’t care if it is delivered to us by Internet through fiber optics or is flown in by a pigeon. What we really care about are things like its content, reliability, convenience and speed of delivery, cost, etc., i.e. attributes of information itself. We do not care whether our Internet provider is Verizon or Sprint, whether the routers used are Cisco or Juniper. This may be important to the equipment and service vendors but not us, information consumers.

This subject may look a little academic, but it isn’t. Proper definition of cyberspace is very important and has many practical implications.

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