Congressional Briefing - February 22, 2012

Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar

Globe with world map and circuit board in background


Martin Libicki, Senior Management Scientist, RAND Corporation


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


2168 Rayburn House Office Building (Gold Room)
Washington, D.C.


View the Video

Listen to the Audio

About the Program

With dire warnings about U.S. cyber vulnerabilities, the Obama administration is pushing Congress to pass a comprehensive cybersecurity bill, and Senate and House committees are moving forward to craft such legislation. Clearly, the protection of cyberspace from potential foreign adversaries has become a vital national interest because of its importance both to the economy and to military power. But traditional warfighting techniques, such as force, offense, defense, and deterrence, cannot be blindly applied to cyberspace. Instead, cyberspace must be understood on its own terms, and policy decisions being made for this domain must reflect this understanding. Failure to do so may hinder policy and planning.

This briefing focuses on

  • what cyberwar is and what it is not
  • the value of vigilance and deterrence
  • actions that the United States can take to protect itself in the face of a cyberattack
  • policy considerations for Congress.

About the Speaker

Martin Libicki (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1978) has been a senior management scientist at RAND since 1998. His research focuses on the impacts of information technology on domestic and national security. He is the author of two commercially published books, Conquest in Cyberspace: National Security and Information Warfare and Information Technology Standards: Quest for the Common Byte, as well as numerous RAND monographs, including Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar, How Insurgencies End (with Ben Connable), How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa'ida (with Seth Jones), and (as co-editor) New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking. His most recent projects have examined the subjects of international demographics, biometrics and multifactor authentication, organizing the Air Force and Department of Homeland Security for cyber operations, exploiting cell phones in counterinsurgency operations, and assessing multiple DARPA programs. Prior to joining RAND, he spent 12 years at the National Defense University, three years on the Navy staff as a program sponsor for industrial preparedness, and three years with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He also has a master's degree in city planning from the University of California, Berkeley (1974).

About RAND

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most, such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. As a nonpartisan organization, RAND operates independent of political and commercial pressures. We serve the public interest by helping lawmakers reach informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. Visit us online at

View calendar of upcoming and recent Congressional briefings

View upcoming and recent Congressional briefings by topic

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100, ext. 5395.