Cyber Warfare

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Cyber warfare involves the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation's computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks. RAND research provides recommendations to military and civilian decisionmakers on methods of defending against the damaging effects of cyber warfare on a nation's digital infrastructure.

Explore Cyber Warfare

  • Blog

    Russia Hacks a U.S. Drone in Crimea as Cyberwarfare Has Gone Wireless

    For American audiences and policymakers alike, cyber activities in Crimea provide a chilling reminder that cyberspace is emerging as a 21st-century global battlefield.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • Blog

    Don't Buy the Cyberhype

    Although the risk of a debilitating cyberattack is real, the perception of that risk is far greater than it actually is, writes Martin Libicki. In fact, a major cyberattack of the kind intelligence officials fear has not taken place in the 21 years since the Internet became accessible to the public.

    Aug 16, 2013

  • Report

    RAND Review: Vol. 37, No. 1, Summer 2013

    Stories discuss the harms caused by sexual assault in the military; the prospects for minimalist international interventions; cyber threats and nations' responses to them; and the rising costs of dementia in the United States.

    Jul 15, 2013

  • Periodical

    Cybersecurity Strategies Raise Hopes of International Cooperation

    Instead of relying on or establishing new permanent overseas bases, the United States should increasingly focus on developing access agreements with host nations.

    Jul 11, 2013

  • Periodical

    Cyberwar Fears Pose Dangers of Unnecessary Escalation

    Nations must ensure that, in their zeal to defend themselves in cyberspace, they do not trigger even greater threats, such as real-world military or economic retaliation.

    Jul 11, 2013

  • Report

    Stocktaking Military Cyber Defense Capabilities in the European Union

    As the stakes of cyber threats rise, the EU needs to be able to provide a consistent level of cyber defense capability across member states. This stocktaking exercise aimed to inform further action at the EU and national level.

    Jun 3, 2013

  • Report

    Brandishing Cyberattack Capabilities

    No one knows quite what would happen if a country suffered a full-fledged cyberattack, despite the plethora of skirmishes. But while cyberattack capabilities cannot easily be used to shape the behavior of others, this does not mean they cannot be used at all.

    May 13, 2013

  • Testimony

    Managing September 12th in Cyberspace

    "The U.S., while worried about a '9/11 in cyberspace,' also ought to worry about what a '9/12 in cyberspace' would look like," warns Martin C. Libicki in testimony presented before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats on March 21, 2013. The consequences of the reaction to a cyberattack could be more serious than the consequences of the original action itself.

    Mar 21, 2013

  • Testimony

    Managing September 12th in Cyberspace

    The U.S., while worried about a "9/11 in cyberspace," also ought to worry about what a "9/12 in cyberspace" would look like. The consequences of the reaction to a cyberattack could be more serious than the consequences of the original action itself.

    Mar 20, 2013

  • Blog

    What Is an Act of Cyberwar? It's a Decision, Not a Conclusion

    Perhaps making war can persuade the attacker to stop. Yet, war also risks further disruption, great cost, as well as possible destruction and death—especially if matters escalate beyond cyberspace, writes Martin Libicki.

    Mar 4, 2013

  • Blog

    The European Cyber Security Strategy: Too Big to Fail?

    The European Cyber Security Strategy is remarkable because it tries to co-ordinate policy across three areas whose competences and mandates were formerly very separate: law enforcement, the 'Digital Agenda', and defence, security, and foreign policy, writes Neil Robinson.

    Feb 8, 2013

  • Report

    Analysis of Cyber Threats Informs Swedish Strategy

    How do governments characterize cyber threats and what role does law enforcement play in tackling cyber crime in different countries? These are some of the questions RAND Europe investigated on behalf of the Swedish National Defence College to inform the development of the Swedish Cyber Security Strategy.

    Feb 5, 2013

  • Blog

    A Cybercrisis Is Inevitable — and Manageable

    The United States can manage a cybercrisis by taking steps to reduce the incentives for other states to step into crisis, by controlling the narrative, understanding the stability parameters of the crises, and trying to manage escalation if conflicts arise.

    Jan 9, 2013

  • Blog

    A Matter of Degree: Who Can Authorize a Cyberattack?

    Understanding when the United States should engage in cyberwar and who should approve cyberattacks requires understanding that cyberwar has multiple personalities: operational, strategic, and that great gray area in-between, writes Martin Libicki.

    Jan 9, 2013

  • Report

    Cybercrises Can Be Managed with Multiple Strategies

    The chances are growing that the United States will find itself in a crisis in cyberspace. Such crises can be managed by taking steps to reduce the incentives for other states to step into crisis, by controlling the narrative, understanding the stability parameters of the crises, and trying to manage escalation if conflicts arise from crises.

    Jan 3, 2013

  • Report

    Rapid Acquisition and Fielding for Information Assurance and Cyber Security in the Navy

    The U.S. Navy requires an agile, adaptable acquisition process that can field new IT capabilities and services quickly. Successful rapid acquisition programs in the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps offer lessons for the Navy as it develops its own streamlined processes for computer network defense and similar program areas.

    Dec 21, 2012

  • Blog

    Cyber Operations Can Supplement a War, but They Cannot Be the War

    The U.S. military, with its high-tech systems, must protect itself from cyber threats with much the same careful management that protects it against vulnerabilities associated with, say, explosives. But there can be no choice between boots on the ground and fingers on a keyboard, writes Martin Libicki.

    Dec 19, 2012

  • Multimedia

    Threats: Cyber Warfare

    In this conference call, RAND senior management scientist Martin Libicki discusses cyber threats–including the declaration of cyber war by "hacktivist" group Anonymous against Israel–with RAND media relations director Jeffrey Hiday.

    Dec 6, 2012

  • Blog

    Admiral Blair: Middle East Most Serious Threat to U.S.

    Admiral Dennis Blair, former National Intelligence director, discusses how the government gathers and uses intelligence on issues including Iran, cyber warfare, and the Arab Spring. Blair spoke with Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans during the RAND's Politics Aside event.

    Nov 21, 2012

  • Journal Article

    An Enemy Without Boundaries

    As Stuxnet and its like have proved, a determined attacker does not require an Internet connection to implant a worm or a virus, and a network's weaknesses can be exposed quite by accident. Cyber defense is difficult, in large part because a cyber attack is not always obvious.

    Oct 1, 2012