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. 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

  • 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

  • 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

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    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

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    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

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    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

  • 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

  • Anti-government protesters at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev on January 25, 2014

    Commentary

    Reports of Global Disorder Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

    Deterring Russia, channeling growing Chinese power, and working with others to dismantle the Islamic State are daunting challenges—but not greater than rebuilding post-World War II Europe, containing the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War, and promoting democratic governance throughout much of the modern world.

    Jul 22, 2015

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    Commentary

    U.S. Needs a New Electronic Identity-Protection Strategy to Prevent 'Hybrid Warfare' Attacks

    The U.S. government needs to develop a strategy to protect its citizens that includes a unique identifying number or code and a method for protecting these identity keys in online transactions.

    Jul 6, 2015

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    Testimony

    Strategies for Defending U.S. Government Networks in Cyberspace

    Hackers, including state and non-state actors, are continuing to find opportunities to penetrate U.S. government networks. Defending these networks will require a systems approach.

    Jun 24, 2015

  • Report

    Ensuring U.S. Air Force Operations During Cyber Attacks Against Combat Support Systems: Guidance for Where to Focus Mitigation Efforts

    RAND researchers developed a process for prioritizing functions and information systems in assessing mission assurance under cyber attack, a challenge due to the number of systems, range of vulnerabilities, and variety of combat support functions.

    May 29, 2015

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    Is Bipartisan National Security Policy Possible in Today's Political Environment?

    Should the United States make a nuclear deal with Iran? What threat do cyber attacks pose to our nation? Should there be intelligence reform? In this Events @ RAND podcast, Mike Rogers speaks to these and other timely national security issues.

    Apr 21, 2015

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    Report

    Training Cyber Warriors: Lessons from Defense Language Training

    To ensure the U.S. Department of Defense has sufficient numbers of skilled cyber workers, it may need to develop additional training approaches as it plans for broader recruiting and workforce management. Examining how DoD handles foreign language training yields lessons that could be applied to cyber training.

    Mar 16, 2015