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.

  • The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee is seen in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2016, photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    Commentary

    The DNC Hack: Are New Norms Needed?

    Sep 29, 2016

    A new norm that would hold the Russian DNC hack to be unacceptable could not rest on a general prohibition against cyber-espionage or political interference. It would have to combine both prohibitions at once.

  • A graphical model meant to help prevent hackers from attacking vulnerable computer resources, photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

    Content

    Challenges and Opportunities in Cyberspace

    Sep 30, 2016

    Cyberspace provides opportunities for innovation, commerce, and societal advancement but also raises issues for policymakers in securing cyber vulnerabilities, ensuring privacy and protection of personal data, and considering the use of cyber weapons as a national security asset.

Explore Cyber Warfare

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, October 20, 2016

    Commentary

    Checklist for a U.S.-Russia Cyberwar

    The Obama administration is reportedly considering a response to Russia's alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee. But many questions must be addressed first.

    Oct 31, 2016

  • Server room interior in datacenter

    Project

    Reforming NATO's Cyber Acquisition Process

    NATO's cyber acquisition process must be adaptive, capable of attracting new entrants and incorporating new technologies. This project aims to define the challenges NATO faces in adjusting its cyber capability development and acquisition processes and make recommendations on how to address them.

    Oct 25, 2016

  • Moral compass image from RR1505

    Project

    Understanding the Moral Dimension of Conflict

    Cyber and autonomous capabilities challenge the core principles of morality frameworks in a number of ways. While a prominent question in the public debate is whether morality can be reduced to an algorithm, the body of academic work on the subject is more nuanced.

    Oct 23, 2016

  • Report

    The moral component of cross-domain conflict

    The study considers the body of work on morality and armed conflict in the future operating environment and provides insights on the ways in which new ways of fighting may challenge traditional moral principles.

    Oct 20, 2016

  • Report

    Thought Leadership programme 2016: Key Findings

    Key findings from the 2016 Thought Leadership Programme, convened by Corsham Institute in conjunction with RAND Europe and St George's House exploring opportunities and challenges created by digital technologies in society.

    Oct 13, 2016

  • Woman paying a cashier with a credit card

    Journal Article

    Cost of Cyber Incidents to American Companies Is Less Than Expected

    Why don't American companies invest more in computer security? One possible explanation: Relative to the other risks they face, cyber risks often aren't as significant as expected. Most breaches cost companies less than 0.4 percent of their annual revenues.

    Oct 10, 2016

  • News Release

    Ukraine's Security Sector Needs Substantial Reform

    An assessment of Ukraine's security sector determines what different institutions need to do and where gaps exist. Roles and responsibilities need to be clarified, and coordination is needed among individual ministries and agencies.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • Ukrainian servicemen take part in a rehearsal for the Independence Day military parade in central Kiev, Ukraine, August 22, 2016

    Report

    Security Sector Reform in Ukraine

    The 2014 Maidan revolution created an opportunity for change in a system that had resisted it for 25 years. The Ukrainian security establishment has progressed since then, but its efforts have been insufficient to address the threats now facing the nation.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • Report

    U.S.–Japan Alliance Conference: Strengthening Strategic Cooperation

    To better understand the deepening cooperation between the United States and Japan and future prospects for their partnership, RAND commissioned papers by leading experts and hosted a two-day conference in Santa Monica, California, in March 2016.

    Sep 2, 2016

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for a personal send-off for members of the Russian Olympic team at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, July 27, 2016

    Commentary

    How to Counter Putin's Subversive War on the West

    Russian cybercrime, Olympics doping, and other active measures have one thing in common: Moscow admits no wrongdoing. These scandals exacerbate the frigid relations between Moscow and the West. Diplomacy sometimes works slowly, but it helps.

    Aug 1, 2016

  • Guo Shengkun, China's Minister of Public Security, speaks during the Second U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues in Beijing, China, June 14, 2016

    Commentary

    The U.S.-China Cyber Agreement: A Good First Step

    The 2015 U.S.-China cyber agreement is a potentially important first step toward addressing the problem of Chinese espionage. But it is by no means a final step.

    Aug 1, 2016

  • Hands on a keyboard in a dark room

    Commentary

    Cyberterrorism and the Role of Silicon Valley

    As national security and war are being redefined for the digital age, Silicon Valley will need to be on the front line of counterterrorism. Its inventors and entrepreneurs are driving the information revolution, and they must figure out how to protect vital systems against malevolent intrusions.

    Jun 13, 2016

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Getting to Yes with China in Cyberspace: Is It Possible?

    In this May 2016 congressional briefing, RAND experts Scott W. Harold and Martin Libicki discuss the differing perspectives and interests of the United States and China in cyberspace.

    May 2, 2016

  • Tanks in Beijing during a training exercise for a military parade

    Report

    China's Evolving Approach to Strategic Deterrence May Prove Challenging to the U.S. and Its Allies

    China is rapidly closing what was once a substantial gap between the PLA's strategic weapons capabilities and its strategic deterrence concepts. The United States will likely need to assure its allies that it will continue to maintain the capability and the resolve to support them in a crisis.

    Apr 7, 2016

  • U.S. sailors assigned to Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command monitor, analyze, detect, and respond to unauthorized activity within U.S. Navy information systems and networks

    Commentary

    The Online Fight Against ISIS

    To prevail against ISIS in cyberspace, the United States and its cyber soldiers will have to be capable of reacting quickly, while being guided by an overarching strategy. Secretary of Defense Carter urged U.S. Cyber Command to intensify the fight against ISIS but it would also be wise to recruit civilian volunteers.

    Apr 1, 2016

  • A senior airman working in defensive cyber operations at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Commentary

    Rather Than Fearing 'Cyber 9/11,' Prepare for 'Cyber Katrina'

    The United States needs a smooth, well-functioning mutual aid system for cybersecurity that provides all of the hard-won benefits of the nation's system for hurricanes and other emergencies.

    Mar 30, 2016

  • U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C.

    Commentary

    Time for Washington to Amp Up the Power to Coerce

    The U.S. government should start preparing systematically for the use of coercion as it does for military warfare, including analyzing options, assessing requirements and capabilities, conducting war games to refine these capabilities, and planning with allies.

    Mar 22, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the start of the climate summit in Paris, November 30, 2015

    Report

    Getting to Yes with China in Cyberspace

    The tensions that divide the United States and China apply just as much to cyberspace as to relations in the physical world. Can the two countries achieve meaningful outcomes through formal negotiations over cyber norms and rules?

    Mar 22, 2016

  • Two teens using laptops

    Commentary

    The Military Should Increase Efforts to Find and Enlist Young Hackers

    Some notorious cyberattacks have been carried out by computer-savvy teens. They don't all have criminal intentions, they just have a particular aptitude for writing code and operating in cyberspace. The U.S. military should consider embracing and cultivating this pool of talent.

    Mar 10, 2016