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

  • A U.S. Air Force airman works at the 561st Network Operations Squadron, which executes defensive cyber operations

    Commentary

    The Two Sides of Cybersecurity

    Securing government networks is certainly necessary, but authorities should not lose sight of the need to couple their defense of America's networks with appropriate resources dedicated to combatting criminal, terrorist, and other threats in cyberspace.

    Nov 13, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Deterrence, Influence, Cyber Attack, and Cyberwar

    This study uses a simple model to speculate about whether deterrence can be a significant part of dealing with special features of the cyber attack challenge, and distinguishing different classes and contexts of cyber threats.

    Nov 13, 2015

  • Research Brief

    Cybersecurity of Air Force Weapon Systems: Ensuring Cyber Mission Assurance Throughout a System's Life Cycle

    Discusses how the Air Force acquisition/life-cycle management community can improve cybersecurity throughout the life cycle of Air Force weapon systems.

    Oct 27, 2015

  • An F-15 flying over Nevada during a USAFWS Mission Employment Exercise

    Report

    Improving the Cybersecurity of U.S. Air Force Weapon Systems

    U.S. Air Force weapon systems containing information technology may be vulnerable to intelligence exploitation and cyberattacks. But there are steps that the Air Force can take to improve the security of these systems throughout their life cycles.

    Oct 27, 2015

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    United States and China: Trends in Military Competition

    In this October 2015 congressional briefing, Eric Heginbotham discusses relative U.S. and Chinese military capabilities, including the evolution of Chinese military capabilities, steps the United States can take to limit the impact of a growing Chinese military on deterrence, and other U.S. strategic interests.

    Oct 5, 2015

  • Joint service and civilian personnel concentrate on exercise scenarios during "Cyber Guard 2015."

    Testimony

    Perspective on 2015 DoD Cyber Strategy

    The DoD's cyber strategy is aligned with its mission, but there will be challenges to implementation—including building and maintaining a capable workforce, assessing risk across DoD networks and systems, and planning for operations.

    Sep 29, 2015

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands following a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington September 25, 2015

    Commentary

    Define Acceptable Cyberspace Behavior

    While a U.S.-China cyberspace agreement is a welcome step, it also underscores the greater issues facing the United States and the international community in this largely ungoverned space. A precondition for securing U.S. networks should be the development of an overarching cyber doctrine that defines acceptable behavior and allows the U.S. to defend its networks against threats.

    Sep 27, 2015

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Boeing in Everett, Washington, September 23, 2015

    Commentary

    The U.S.-China Summit Is More Significant for Xi Jinping Than Obama

    The Xi-Obama summit will provide the opportunity to discuss contentious issues like cybersecurity and the South China Sea, as well as other issues, such as climate change and economic cooperation. For Xi, the visit underscores the tremendous importance of messaging to a Chinese audience the narrative of a continued stable and robust partnership with the country that matters most to China politically and economically.

    Sep 24, 2015

  • U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chinese army Gen. Fang Fenghui, China's chief of the general staff, salute during a ceremony in Beijing, April 22, 2013

    Research Brief

    Tallying the U.S.-China Military Scorecard

    A set of “scorecards” assesses the relative capabilities of U.S. and Chinese military forces in diverse types of conflict, at varying distances from the Chinese mainland, and at different points in time.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy recruits march during a parade in Qingdao, Shandong province, December 5, 2013

    Report

    China's Military Modernization Increasingly Challenges U.S. Defense Capabilities in Asia

    Although China continues to lag behind the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, it has improved its capabilities relative to those of the U.S. in many critical areas. Moreover, China does not need to catch up fully in order to challenge U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Lessons from a Hacker: Cyber Concepts for Policymakers

    In this September 14th congressional briefing, Lillian Ablon discusses the basics of cyber and information security and provides insights into some of the complexities of cybersecurity policymaking. Topics include why software vulnerabilities are significant, the components of cyber risk beyond the threat, motivations of various cyber threats actors, and what they exploit.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • News Release

    China's Military Modernization Increasingly Challenges U.S. Defense Capabilities in Asia

    Although China continues to lag behind the United States in terms of aggregate military hardware and operational skills, it has improved its capabilities relative to those of the U.S. in many critical areas. Moreover, China does not need to catch up fully in order to challenge U.S. ability to conduct effective military operations near the Chinese mainland.

    Sep 14, 2015

  • Digital internet security concept

    Announcement

    RAND Hosts Cybersecurity Exercise

    The discussion of cybersecurity should not be trapped within narrow technical, national security, or legal stovepipes and should include an examination of economic, civil, and societal factors. With that goal in mind, RAND hosted an analytic exercise on cybersecurity.

    Sep 3, 2015

  • View of the Earth from space

    Essay

    Interdependence Day: Contending with a New Global Order

    A team of RAND experts took a sober look at the threats facing the United States and developed a playbook of strategies to address them.

    Aug 21, 2015

  • Testimony

    Strategies for Defending U.S. Government Networks in Cyberspace: Addendum

    Document submitted on July 31, 2015 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies on June 24, 2015.

    Aug 3, 2015

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Strategic Rethink: Choices for America in a Turbulent World

    In this July 2015 Congressional Briefing, Ambassador James Dobbins discusses the report he coauthored with Howard Shatz and David Ochmanek, Choices for America in a Turbulent World. This is the first paper in the "Strategic Rethink" project, in which RAND researchers examine the most consequential choices that are likely to face this president and the next.

    Jul 24, 2015

  • World map, connected people icons, and binary code

    Commentary

    War on the Web

    While the U.S. Cyber Command is preparing the nation's defenses for the coming ramp-up in cyberwarfare-like attacks, the messages spread instantly by hordes of attackers through social media may not be receiving the attention they deserve.

    Jul 23, 2015

  • World puzzle

    Report

    Choices for America in a Turbulent World

    Today, the United States faces no existential threat. Rather, it confronts an unusually wide and diverse array of challenges. What strategic choices does it have in dealing with these challenges—and tomorrow's?

    Jul 23, 2015

  • Glowing globe

    Project

    The RAND Strategic Rethink Project

    The RAND Strategic Rethink project explores important strategic questions facing the United States, producing a guide for policymakers, citizens, educators, and the media on the most critical global choices and challenges facing the country.

    Jul 23, 2015

  • News Release

    With Upcoming 2016 Election, Global Power Shifts Will Face the Next U.S. President

    Chaos in the Middle East, Russian intervention, Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, climate change, and a decline in U.S. military readiness have raised questions about how America envisions its role in a turbulent geopolitical environment. Nevertheless, the world is not falling apart and these difficulties are not beyond the United States' ability to manage.

    Jul 23, 2015