This talk summarizes four models to understand offense-defense balance in cyberspace: asset, systemic, dyadic, and strategic. The main body of international relations scholarship conflates these models and, in consequence, misses the strong and abiding systemic offense advantage. This systemic offense advantage is deeply rooted in decades of computer-science literature which has not been paid sufficiently attention by political scientists. This talk concludes with the policy and research implications of the systemic offensive advantage.
Whether or not local and foreign influence operations put Trump in power, accelerated cyber attacks and information warfare during the US election in 2016 had a profound and deliberate psychological affect. As a result, the US launched its own pre-emptive and aggressive cyber strategy seeking to deter future hacks. While Offensive Cyber is normally defined in terms of hardware – computer network attacks with impacts on physical hardware and software manipulation, Dr Briant explains and emphasises the increasing importance of dual impacts on the human ‘infrastructure’ of our minds, which marked the events of 2016. The psychological impacts of Offensive Cyber and how these are mitigated or influenced should be more integral conceptually, suggesting a possible broadening of the concept. Dr Briant predicts that Western governments will recognise increasingly that their own Offensive Cyber outcomes rest on their accompanying activities in the psychological domain and will increase use of information operations around such attacks. It is essential that scholars in the related disciplines discuss, anticipate and better understand how influence and offensive cyber interact addressing their ethical and legal implications together.
For 2021, the OCWG is recruiting up to 3 new Steering Committee members as we move to expand our activities and events. We are looking for diverse members who have an interest in offensive cyber research , writ broad, in the UK context.
If you would like to apply, please send an email to steering[at]offensivecyber[dot]org by Friday 12 February 2021 with the following information:
Maximum of 300 words on your interest in offensive cyber research, your experience to date, and why you wish to be part of the OCWG Steering Committee.
Your current academic (or other relevant) affiliation(s).
Informal contact is welcome addressed to the Co-Leads, Dr Andrew Dwyer and Amy Ertan.