Bilyana Lilly

Photo of Bilyana Lilly
Ph.D. Candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


M.Sc. in Russian and East European studies (honors), University of Oxford; M.A. in international affairs, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) Switzerland; B.A. in international politics and history, Jacobs University, Germany


Bilyana Lilly is a doctoral student at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy researcher at RAND. She leads project teams and co-authors reports on Russian cyber threat actors, information warfare, election cybersecurity, disinformation, machine learning for text analysis, military mobilization, nuclear capabilities and NATO. She has presented RAND-sponsored and independent research at professional conferences, including NATO’s Conference on Cyber Conflict, CyCon; the hacking conference DefCon; and the Warsaw Security Forum.

She received a Key Contributor Medal Award for her work on RAND's election cybersecurity project, where RAND's team designed a tool to identify vulnerabilities in U.S. election infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security is currently implementing the tool across the United States. The overarching project received a Medal Honoring Excellence from RAND's Office of the President.

Prior to joining Pardee RAND, Lilly was an associate at the Brookings Institution where she focused on U.S. security strategy, NATO’s policy toward emerging powers, and populism. She also worked at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland, where she focused on issues related to the weaponization of space. She is the author of the book Russian Foreign Policy Toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence, which contains information from talks Lilly conducted with Russia’s deputy defense minister and deputy minister of foreign affairs.

Lilly has master’s degrees in Russian and East European studies from Oxford University (summa cum laude) and in international affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Recent Projects

  • Framework for Predicting Cyber Operations
  • Hunting Russian Trolls: A Linguistic Model for Detection and Attribution of Russian Disinformation and Divisive Content
  • Protecting Election IT Infrastructure: State and Local Cybersecurity Operations

Selected Publications

Bilyana Lilly and Joe Cheravitch "Russia’s Cyber Limitations in Personnel and Technological Innovations and Their Impact on Future Operations," in , Cyber Threats: Horizon Scanning and Analysis, NATO CCD COE, 2020 (forthcoming)

Bilyana Lilly and Joe Cheravitch "The Past, Present, and Future of Russia’s Cyber Strategy," in T. Jančárková, L. Lindström, M. Signoretti, I. Tolga, G. Visky, 20/20 Vision: The Next Decade, NATO CCD COE, 2020

11th International Conference on Cyber Conflict, Applying Indications & Warning Frameworks to Cyber Incidents, NATO CCD COE Publications, Tallinn, 2019

Bilyana Lilly, Russian Foreign Policy toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence, Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2014

Honors & Awards

  • Distinction by the examiners in Russian studies, University of Oxford
  • Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace for the study of Russian, Middlebury College, VT
  • Oxford Jenkins Memorial Scholarship, University of Oxford


Russian; Bulgarian; French


  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko walk to watch the closing stage of the joint war games Zapad-2013 (West-2013) at the Gozhsky firing range in Grodno, September 26, 2013

    Joint Military Exercises Distract from Complex Russia-Belarus Relationship

    Analysts and military leaders have concerns that Russia will use the Zapad 2017 exercise in Belarus as a smokescreen to put personnel and equipment in place, and keep it there. But the deep ties and history of cooperation between the two states make the chances of that happening unlikely.

    Sep 13, 2017 The National Interest