Introducing The Alert

We are excited to launch The Alert, the blog of the Offensive Cyber Working Group (OCWG).  

The Offensive Cyber Working Group (OCWG) is an academia-led initiative to bring together experts from across academia, policy and the private sector to examine the conceptual, policy and practical implications of offensive cyber activity in the current UK landscape. 

The objective of the OCWG’s blog, The Alert, is to encourage public debate on offensive cyber. The blog will operate as a space for an open and critical reflection about the different ways in which offensive cyber is taking shape in the UK and around the world. 

Why the name?  

We think offensive cyber is something that people need to be talking about. Like an alert on social media, we want this blog to draw attention to something important. We’ll also use this blog to draw attention to upcoming events and to highlight news stories related to offensive cyber. We hope that The Alert will be a useful resource for people working in this area.  

The analogy to social media makes sense in another way – we want this platform to be a place for debate and discussion (although, unlike on social media, we hope that debate will always be informed and constructive). Political, strategic, legal, and ethical frameworks for offensive cyber are rapidly evolving around the world. The language and the theoretical frameworks that shape our understanding of offensive cyber are similarly dynamic and contested. These issues need to be actively debated, or we will end up talking past each other. The Alert provides another forum for these debates.  

The name The Alert also has deeper historical resonance. The Alert was the name of the ship that severed submarine telecommunication cables in the Channel following the British declaration of war on Germany in 1914. Was this an early example of offensive cyber? Or is there something fundamentally different about competition and conflict in the digital age? Regardless of your view on those questions, we think that it is valuable to view offensive cyber in a broader historical context, the better to understand both the continuities and discontinuities that make this such an important topic.  

Looking ahead 

It is an exciting time to be working on offensive cyber. We will use this blog to share information about the work of the OCWG, as well as details of upcoming seminars and workshops. The first of those announcements will come out later this week – keep an eye on this blog and follow the OCWG on Twitter.     

We want to hear from you. If you have questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with us at alert@offensivecyber.org. We welcome contributions to this blog from scholars, practitioners, and other experts on a range of topics related to offensive cyber.   

This could include: 

  • Policy implications of offensive cyber  
  • New theoretical approaches  
  • National approaches to offensive cyber (UK and all other countries are welcome) 
  • Multi-stakeholder perspectives on offensive cyber

Contributions could take the form of short-form articles (600-1,000 words), longer debates between two contributing authors, or shorter commentary on emerging stories. If it touches on offensive cyber, we want to hear about it. 

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