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Abstract

The protection of cyberspace, the information medium, has become a vital national interest because of its importance both to the economy and to military power. An attacker may tamper with networks to steal information for the money or to disrupt operations. Future wars are likely to be carried out, in part or perhaps entirely, in cyberspace. It might therefore seem obvious that maneuvering in cyberspace is like maneuvering in other media, but nothing would be more misleading. Cyberspace has its own laws; for instance, it is easy to hide identities and difficult to predict or even understand battle damage, and attacks deplete themselves quickly. Cyberwar is nothing so much as the manipulation of ambiguity. The author explores these topics in detail and uses the results to address such issues as the pros and cons of counterattack, the value of deterrence and vigilance, and other actions the United States and the U.S. Air Force can take to protect itself in the face of deliberate cyberattack.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    A Conceptual Framework

  • Chapter Three

    Why Cyberdeterrence Is Different

  • Chapter Four

    Why the Purpose of the Original Cyberattack Matters

  • Chapter Five

    A Strategy of Response

  • Chapter Six

    Strategic Cyberwar

  • Chapter Seven

    Operational Cyberwar

  • Chapter Eight

    Cyberdefense

  • Chapter Nine

    Tricky Terrain

  • Appendix A

    What Constitutes an Act of War in Cyberspace?

  • Appendix B

    The Calculus of Explicit Versus Implicit Deterrence

  • Appendix C

    The Dim Prospects for Cyber Arms Control

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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