This is an article I wrote a while ago and never got published. It’s a bit outdated now, but I still think it can be useful for historical purposes, so I’ll post a link to it below.
This document analyzes the use of the cyber environment in the Syrian civil war by both the population and the government in order to characterize online tactics and strategies developed and used by each belligerent. This overview allows for the generalization of online behaviour by hacktivists and nation-state-sponsored actors on communication networks in the region, which will continue to see online attacks from various parties in the foreseeable future during a similar conflict. In Syria, because of poor infrastructure, low rate of Internet penetration and early adoption of control mechanisms by the current government, the authorities had dominance over their information environment early in the conflict, enabling the rapid gathering of intelligence on dissidents. While social media were leveraged by the population as in many other uprisings for coordination, it was also the theatre of multiple offensive cyber operations by internal and external groups, mostly for information operations purposes. Despite the high level of activity, none appeared to have a definitive impact on the ground. While events recorded in this space have not reached the level of intensity of other conflicts, it proves a useful model for similar conflicts in the Middle East region.