Deterrence, Influence, Cyber Attack, and Cyberwar

Published in: New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, v. 47, no. 2, Winter 2014, p. 327-355

Posted on RAND.org on November 13, 2015

by Paul K. Davis

Read More

Access further information on this document at nyujilp.org

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Deterrence by itself is a fragile basis for strategic thinking. Thus, I start by placing deterrence within a broader framework of objectives and then discuss special features of the cyber attack challenge, distinguishing different classes and contexts of cyber threats. I then use a simple model to speculate about whether deterrence can be a significant part of dealing with those different threats. The model allows for very different degrees of "rationality" on the part of whoever is to be deterred. My discussion ends with suggestions for policymakers and scholars. My conclusion is that hoping for deterrence with today's reality would be like grasping for straws. Deterrent measures should definitely be part of a larger strategy, but the focus should be elsewhere.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.