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.

  • Accountability in Cyberspace: The Problem of Attribution

    Multimedia

    How to Achieve Accountability in Cyberspace

    Jan 13, 2019

    Identifying the responsible party behind malicious cyber incidents is necessary for holding bad actors accountable. But there are many challenges that accompany cyber attribution. Creating an independent, global organization that investigates and publicly assigns blame for major hacks could help.

  • Cyber grenade

    Commentary

    Getting Ready to Fight the Next (Cyber) War

    Mar 3, 2018

    Nation-states and their proxies are regularly spying and attacking in cyberspace across national borders. Western societies that are being targeted should do three things: Be less vulnerable, be able to recognize and mitigate the impact of attacks faster, and be prepared to respond in kind to all levels of offense.

Explore Cyber Warfare

  • 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

  • An MQ-9 Reaper on the flightline at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    Do 'Guardian Forces' Belong in the Military?

    More and more national security workers in and out of uniform never get close to combat. They address cyber threats, operate satellite constellations, and control drones. It's time to rethink their place in the system.

    Mar 10, 2016

  • Chess pieces on a board

    Report

    Countering Adversaries Without Going to War

    How can the United States coerce unfriendly states without going to war? The three potentially most cost-effective options are financial sanctions, support for nonviolent political opposition, and offensive cyber operations.

    Mar 3, 2016

  • Service members and civilians conduct simulated cyberattack scenarios during Cyber Guard 2015

    Commentary

    In Greater Alignment: Public and Policymakers on Cyber

    For the first time, Gallup included cyberterrorism in its annual survey of Americans' concerns about threats to U.S. interests, and 73 percent of respondents said they felt it was a critical threat. The survey results come amid a flurry of activity on the issue on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

    Feb 29, 2016

  • Testimony

    Perspective on 2015 DoD Cyber Strategy: Addendum

    Document submitted on February 23, 2016 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee on September 29, 2015.

    Feb 26, 2016

  • Cybersecurity "leak"

    Multimedia

    Emerging Cyber Threats and Implications

    Cyberspace is expanding, becoming more vulnerable, and hosting increasingly vast amounts of data. Compounding this challenge is the growing number of bad actors seeking to exploit cyberspace. What steps can be taken to help mitigate emerging threats and improve U.S. cybersecurity?

    Feb 25, 2016

  • Department of Homeland Security researchers work at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, April 28, 2010

    Tool

    A Framework for Programming and Budgeting for Cybersecurity

    When defending an organization, cybersecurity professionals must choose from a large set of defensive measures while operating with a limited set of resources. What is the menu of actions for defending against an attack? And how can defenders navigate the selection process?

    Jan 20, 2016

  • A row of Iranian flags in front of the Tehran skyline

    Commentary

    Iran: A Rising Cyber Power?

    Iran is a country with revisionist tendencies that has accumulated enemies. This has impelled it to develop techniques to keep them at bay. Cyber, in some circumstances, is a particularly cost-effective way of doing so.

    Dec 16, 2015

  • Protesters from the online activist group Anonymous

    Commentary

    Anonymous vs. ISIS: Wishing the Vigilante Hackers Luck Against the Murderous Jihadists

    While ISIL uses the Internet to recruit fighters and incite violence, the Anonymous counter initiative could lower the volume of the online echo chamber, and yield support for the war against ISIL and its extremist ilk.

    Dec 14, 2015

  • Close-up view on white conceptual keyboard - European Union (key with flag)

    Report

    Exploring Cybersecurity Threats and Policy Responses in the EU and Beyond

    Existing cybersecurity measures in the EU are fragmented, largely due to gaps in operational capabilities as well as strategic priorities of Member States. However, there are many policy options that may improve the EU's overall cybersecurity approach.

    Nov 18, 2015