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.

  • Concept of artificial intelligence winning at chess, photo by JohnDWilliams/Getty Images

    Report

    The Emerging Risk of Virtual Societal Warfare

    Oct 9, 2019

    Living in an information society opens unprecedented opportunities for hostile rivals to cause disruption, delay, inefficiency, and harm. Social manipulation techniques are evolving beyond disinformation and cyberattacks on infrastructure sites. How can democracies protect themselves?

  • The entrance to Lakhta-2 business center, which reportedly houses news organizations and internet research companies known for trolling on social media, in St. Petersburg, Russia, February 20, 2018, photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Translation Troubles Can Tell Us About Russian Information Warfare

    Oct 4, 2019

    Russian information warfare has attracted significant international attention since 2014. But little research has focused on its apparent shortcomings. Most notable are the confusing translation mistakes that undermine Moscow's attempts at covert influence efforts.

Explore Cyber Warfare

  • 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

  • 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

  • Identify theft illustration

    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

  • Network hub and cable

    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

    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

  • Eye and technology display

    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

  • A man accesses data from a computer

    Testimony

    Sharing Information About Threats Is Not a Cybersecurity Panacea

    Information-sharing—specifically, threat-centric information-sharing—has dominated recent discussions on improving cybersecurity, but it is not a silver bullet. Its usefulness is tied to certain assumptions about attacks, and while it should be encouraged, it addresses only one facet of a very complex space.

    Mar 4, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Integrating Apples, Oranges, Pianos, Volkswagens, and Skyscrapers: On the Relationships Between Information-Related Capabilities and Other Lines of Operation

    This article describes the various possible relationships between IRCs and the capabilities of other lines of operation.

    Feb 17, 2015

  • Binary code with 'password' in red

    Commentary

    Cyberattacks Are a Nuisance, Not Terrorism

    The United States needs to consider both the risk of further attacks like the Sony breach and also further ill-considered reactions that may arise if the problem of insecurity in cyberspace is shoved into the counterterrorism paradigm.

    Feb 9, 2015

  • People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo

    Commentary

    Decoding the Breach: The Truth About the CENTCOM Hack

    When ISIS hackers hijacked the Twitter account of U.S. Central Command on Jan. 12, they falsely claimed that they had hacked into U.S. military computers. While the incident was embarrassing, it was not concerning in operational military terms. It was, however, damaging to the counterinsurgency against ISIS.

    Feb 3, 2015

  • Service members working in the Global Strategic Warning and Space Surveillance System Center

    Commentary

    Put a Cybercop on the Beat

    What remains vitally needed is legislation that would grant at least one capable government organization the authority to track cyber-intruders and -criminals with the same freedom and speed of maneuver that these adversaries enjoy, while protecting the civil liberties and freedoms that allowed the establishment of the Internet.

    Jan 22, 2015

  • People pose in front of a display showing the word 'cyber' in binary code, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 27, 2014

    Commentary

    After a Year of Major Hacks, 2015 Resolutions to Bolster Cyber Security

    With numerous data breaches and emerging software vulnerabilities, 2014 was the year the hack went viral. But realizing a few New Year's resolutions in 2015 could help defenders make strides in protection, tools, and techniques to gain the edge over cyber attackers in years to come.

    Dec 31, 2014

  • A security guard at the entrance of United Artists Theater during the premiere of the film 'The Interview' in Los Angeles, December 11, 2014

    Commentary

    Is the North Korean Regime Out of Control?

    Evidence points to North Korean involvement in the Sony hack. But it's impossible to know if top regime leaders sanctioned the attack or if it was carried out by another part of the government without their knowledge and consent. An unauthorized hack would only add to Kim Jong-un's worry over his regime's instability.

    Dec 23, 2014

  • Illustrated photo of a person typing on a computer keyboard

    Commentary

    Preventing Cyber Attacks: Sharing Information About Tor

    While Tor has many benefits, it is also used to hide criminal activity online such as the recent cyber attacks against JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures. The U.S. government should share the IP addresses of Tor network nodes with U.S. critical infrastructure and financial firms so that future cyber attacks could be prevented.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • An exercise at the Joint Cyber Control Center

    Report

    The Other Quiet Professionals: Lessons for Future Cyber Forces from the Evolution of Special Forces

    Both special operations forces and cyber forces are small teams of highly skilled specialists, and both communities value skilled personnel above all else. What lessons can be drawn from a review of the commonalities, similarities, and differences between U.S. cyber forces and early U.S. special forces?

    Oct 3, 2014

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    Building on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review to Improve the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Department of Homeland Security: Addendum

    Document submitted on July 18, 2014 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency on June 20, 2014.

    Jul 18, 2014

  • U.S. Representative John Carter (R-TX) and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Capitol Hill

    Testimony

    Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the DHS

    If the Department of Homeland Security is to overcome the challenges of uncertain threats and budget constraints, it will need strategic focus to direct resources where they are most needed, strong oversight to assure that resources are used effectively, and cooperation across government to improve efficiency.

    Jun 20, 2014

  • DPU Soldiers conduct cyber defense exercise

    Commentary

    Russia Hacks a U.S. Drone in Crimea as Cyberwarfare Has Gone Wireless

    For American audiences and policymakers alike, cyber activities in Crimea provide a chilling reminder that cyberspace is emerging as a 21st-century global battlefield.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • Network defender working at the Air Force Space Command Network Operations & Security Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs

    Commentary

    Don't Buy the Cyberhype

    Although the risk of a debilitating cyberattack is real, the perception of that risk is far greater than it actually is, writes Martin Libicki. In fact, a major cyberattack of the kind intelligence officials fear has not taken place in the 21 years since the Internet became accessible to the public.

    Aug 16, 2013