Countering Adversarial Cyber Campaigns

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 10:00 am10:30 am

Max Smeets, Stanford University


Over the course of the last three decades, and increasingly over the past eight years, state and semi-state actor behavior in cyberspace is veering in a direction that much of the cyber security research has not. While much of the academic and policy communities focus on ‘the high-and-right’ cyber action equivalent to an armed attack - the concept of cyber war - the actual behavior of actors has been of a far more nuanced and different nature. What we have been observing are campaigns comprised of linked cyber operations, with the specific objective of achieving strategic outcomes without the need of armed attack. These campaigns are not simply transitory clever tactics. Rather, they are reflections of the structural imperatives of cyberspace itself as a domain and as such will be the central mechanism of state and semi-state competition in this realm as long as the core structure of cyberspace endures. The fundamental nature of cyberspace rests on a structure of interconnectedness and a condition of constant contact. Once recognized, that nature requires us to study cyber means not as enablers of war, although they can be, but more critically as the alternative to it.

This presentation puts forth the argument that cyberspace is a new field of competition in power politics and cyber campaigns are now a salient means, alternative to war, of achieving strategic outcomes. We propose and evaluate a new set of measures - which go beyond conventional approaches of norms setting, deterrence and resilience - to address today's cyber policy challenges.

Max Smeets, Stanford University

Dr. Max Smeets is a cybersecurity postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). He is also a non-resident cybersecurity policy fellow at New America, and Research Associate at the Centre for Technology & Global Affairs, University of Oxford.

Max's current book project focuses on the causes underlying cyber proliferation and restraint. He was awarded the annual 2018 Amos Perlmutter Prize of the Journal of Strategic Studies for the most outstanding manuscript submitted for publication by a junior faculty member.

Max was previously a College Lecturer at Keble College, University of Oxford. He has held research positions at Oxford Cyber Studies Programme, Columbia University SIPA, Sciences Po CERI, and NATO CCD COE.

He holds an undergraduate degree from University College Roosevelt, Utrecht University, an M.Phil (Brasenose College) and DPhil (St. John's College) in International Relations from the University of Oxford.

@conference {226331,
author = {Max Smeets},
title = {Countering Adversarial Cyber Campaigns},
year = {2019},
address = {Burlingame, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan

Presentation Video