Cyber Deterrence Revisited   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the Abstract: "The discourse on cyber deterrence is a melting pot of ideas, concepts, and experiments meant to continuously twist, bend, and refine our understanding, from the conflict dynamics playing out in cyberspace to the psychological deterrence effects taking root inside the human mind. At least, that is how it ought to be. With the exception of persistent engagement, cyber deterrence thinking has to a large degree treaded intellectual water due to the absence of access to operational data and insights into the tactical decision-making processes. To circumvent this substantial gap, academics have turned to recycling and transposing known deterrence mechanisms onto the cyber domain to mimic known behavioral outcomes elsewhere. Overall, those efforts have had limited practical success or could even be considered counterproductive for creating a deterrence theory applicable to cyberspace. This paper is a correcting effort to disentangle the ongoing academic discussions. It critically reflects on mechanism outcomes, shortfalls, and misconceptions and explains when cyber deterrence is successful and when it is not. It also outlines potential research avenues, policies, and access requirements that will likely help to ascertain the deterrence effects we so desperately crave to create in cyberspace."

Report Number:
CPP-8; Cyber Power Paper-8
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Air University: https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/
Media Type:
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