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Corporate warfare refers to attacks on individuals or companies by other individuals or companies.[1][2] Such warfare may be part of economic warfare and cyberwarfare.[3]

In fictionEdit

In the science fiction genre of cyberpunk corporations guard their data and hire individuals to break into computer systems of their competitors.[4] In the genre pioneered by William Gibson, power is largely in the hands of megacorporations which often maintain their own private armies and security forces and wage corporate warfare against each other.[5]


According to Schwartau in corporate information warfare companies are targeted, typically by their competitors. Such warfare may include methods of industrial espionage, spreading disinformation, leaking confidential information and damaging a company's information systems.[3]

Chris Rouland of the cybersecurity & cyberarms company Endgame, Inc. controversially advocated that private companies should be allowed to "hack back" against nations or criminals trying to steal their data.[6] After a wave of high-profile attacks against US companies and government databases a panel of experts assembled by the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security said policies should be eased to allow "active defense" measures to deter hackers and did not recommend hacking back "because [they] don't want the cure to be worse than the disease".[7] Relevantly on the February 2017 RSA Conference Microsoft President Brad Smith stated that technology companies need to preserve trust and stability online by pledging neutrality in cyber conflict.[8][9]

The dramatic increase in the use of the Internet for business purposes has exposed private entities to greater risks for cyber-attacks. Garcia and Horowitz propose a game theoretic approach which considers economic motivations for investment in Internet security and investigate a scenario in which firms plan for long-term security investment by considering the likelihood of cyber-attacks.[3]

Botnets may be used to knock business competitors off line.[10] They can be hired by corporations to disrupt the operation of competitors on the networks.[11]

Low-grade corporate warfare is constantly being waged between technology giants by "patent trolls, insider blogs and corporate talking points".[12]

Supply chain attacks in corporate warfare can be called supply chain interdiction.[13]

The term may also refer to the privatization of warfare mainly by the involvement of private military companies.[14][15][16]

It has been speculated that the concept of "non-international armed conflict within the meaning of Article 3 GC I to IV" of the Fourth Geneva Convention would be wide enough to allow for covering "a renaissance of corporate warfare".[2]


In 2016 a digital illustration series by the German Foreal design studio called "Corporate Warfare" visualized the power and impact of big brand corporations by branded torpedoes and atomic bombs. Dirk Schuster, cofounder of Foreal states that "big corporations can have more power than governments, so we put them in a military context".[17][18]

Sam Esmail, creator of the television series Mr. Robot, states that "the next world war won't be fought with nukes, but with information, economics and corporate warfare.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kutais, B. G. (1999). Internet Policies and Issues. Nova Publishers. ISBN 9781590332269. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b Melzer, Nils (29 May 2008). Targeted Killing in International Law. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780199533169. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Merrick, Kathryn; Hardhienata, Medria; Shafi, Kamran; Hu, Jiankun (22 July 2016). "A Survey of Game Theoretic Approaches to Modelling Decision-Making in Information Warfare Scenarios". Future Internet. 8 (3): 34. doi:10.3390/fi8030034.
  4. ^ "The Politics of Cyberpunk". The Cyberpunk Project. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  5. ^ Meehan, Paul (13 August 2015). Tech-Noir: The Fusion of Science Fiction and Film Noir. McFarland. ISBN 9781476609737. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  6. ^ "This Silicon Valley venture fund keeps betting millions on D.C.'s cyber community". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  7. ^ "U.S. Should Strike Back at Cyberattackers: Report". Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  8. ^ "'Digital Geneva Convention' needed to deter nation-state hacking: Microsoft president". Reuters. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  9. ^ Kaspersky, Eugene. "A Digital Geneva Convention? A Great Idea". Forbes. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  10. ^ Farwell, James P.; Rohozinski, Rafal. "Stuxnet and the Future of Cyber War" (PDF). Retrieved 23 January 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "DDoS for hire services offering to 'take down your competitor's web sites' going mainstream". 6 June 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ Torrenzano, Richard; Davis, Mark (25 October 2011). Digital Assassination: Protecting Your Reputation, Brand, or Business Against Online Attacks. Macmillan. ISBN 9781429989381.
  13. ^ Cartwright, Shawn D. (February 2000). "SUPPLY CHAIN INTERDICTION and CORPORATE WARFARE". Journal of Business Strategy. 21 (2): 30–35. doi:10.1108/eb040072.
  14. ^ "Corporate warfare". Financial Times. 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  15. ^ Elimination of mercenarism in Africa: a need for a new continental approach. Institute for Security Studies (South Africa). 2008. ISBN 9781920114404. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  16. ^ Ryan, Cheyney (16 May 2009). The Chickenhawk Syndrome: War, Sacrifice, and Personal Responsibility. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 9780742565050. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  17. ^ "Big Brands Are Reimagined as Weapons of Destruction". The Creators Project. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  18. ^ "FOREAL - CORPORATE WARFARE". Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  19. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (22 September 2016). "'Mr. Robot' Season 2 Finale: Sam Esmail On Shocking Twist & Possible Donald Trump Season 3 Impact". Deadline. Retrieved 24 January 2017.

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