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.

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    Commentary

    Why It's So Hard to Stop a Cyberattack — and Even Harder to Fight Back

    Mar 30, 2017

    Cyber weapons attack the underlying network or computer systems. The possibility of unexpected effects in the cyber world is therefore greater than in conventional warfare. Not knowing if the effects were intentional complicates the response.

  • Composite image of binary code on a sunset over water

    Report

    The Life and Times of Zero-Day Software Vulnerabilities

    Mar 9, 2017

    Zero-day software vulnerabilities—security holes that developers haven't fixed or aren't aware of—can lurk undetected for years. They are useful in cyber operations and in defensive and academic settings. Whether to disclose or stockpile them is an ongoing debate.

Explore Cyber Warfare

  • U.S. Army soldiers take part in a multi-service exercise on cyber capabilities at Ford Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, June 10, 2014

    Testimony

    Effective Cyberdeterrence Takes More Than Offensive Capability

    A successful cyberdeterrence posture has many prerequisites. These include attributing attacks to the correct party, thresholds for what merits retaliation, credibility, and offensive capability. For the United States, capability is the least in doubt.

    Mar 1, 2017

  • President Barack Obama talks about cyber hacking during the U.S. presidential election as he holds his final news conference of the year at the White House in Washington, December 16, 2016

    Commentary

    How to Deter Foreign Cyberattacks on U.S. Elections

    Deterring future cyber-meddling in U.S. elections will require convincing adversaries — Russia and others — that any future such meddling will either be ineffective and/or too costly to be worthwhile.

    Jan 5, 2017

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia December 29, 2016

    Commentary

    No Quick Fix with Russia

    A series of small steps is more likely to improve Western and Russian security than an attempt at a total reset. At the same time, sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, and NATO actions to reassure and protect allies, must continue.

    Jan 3, 2017

  • People protest as electors gather to cast their votes amid allegations of Russian hacking to try to influence the U.S. presidential election in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, December 19, 2016

    Commentary

    Were Russian Hacks Really a Threat to American Democracy?

    The Russian attacks should be another wake up call about the relentless probing of America's digital assets by adversaries and the potential consequences of weak cyber defenses. But U.S. democracy appears to have survived safe and sound.

    Dec 30, 2016

  • A sailor opens a network monitoring program during an exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, August 22, 2016

    Commentary

    America's Cyber Security Dilemma — and a Way Out

    The United States should continue to pursue international cooperation in cyberspace, improve its ability to identify and expose the sources of attacks, and improve its oversight of the development and adoption of cyber-related technologies.

    Dec 22, 2016

  • The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in Langley, Virginia

    Commentary

    How Can We Be Sure Putin Hacked the Democrats?

    Did Russia conduct an election cyber campaign against America? There is likely no smoking gun. But there is presumably a preponderance of technical evidence, intelligence, and benefits to Moscow that points in that direction.

    Dec 16, 2016

  • 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

  • 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

  • The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee is seen in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2016

    Commentary

    The DNC Hack: Are New Norms Needed?

    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.

    Sep 29, 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