Brandishing Cyberattack Capabilities

Brandishing Cyberattack Capabilities

Brandishing Cyberattack Capabilities

Brandishing Cyberattack Capabilities

Excerpt

The U.S. military exists not just to fight and win wars but also to deter them and even dissuade others from preparing for them. Deterrence is possible only when others have a good idea of what the U.S. military can do. Such acknowledgment is at the heart of U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy and, to a lesser extent, our maintaining strong mobile conventional forces that can intervene almost anywhere on the globe. Cyberattack capabilities, however, resist such demonstration, for many reasons, not least of which is that their effects are very specific to details of a target system’s software, architecture, and management. But the fact that cyberattack capabilities cannot easily be used to shape the behavior of others does not mean they cannot be used at all. This report explores ways that cyberattack capabilities can be “brandished.” It then goes on to examine the obstacles to doing so and sketches some realistic limits on our expectations.

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

For more information on the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center, see http://www.rand.org/nsrd/ndri/centers/isdp.html or contact the director (contact information is provided on the web page).

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