The Cybersecurity Dilemma: Hacking, Trust and Fear Between Nations
By Ben Buchanan
Published by Oxford University Press, February 1, 2017
“Why do nations break into one another’s most important computer networks? There is an obvious answer: to steal valuable information or to attack. But this isn’t the full story.”
Why do nations break into one another’s most important computer networks? There is an obvious answer: to steal valuable information or to attack. But this isn’t the full story. This book draws on often-overlooked documents leaked by Edward Snowden, real-world case studies of cyber operations, and policymaker perspectives to show that intruding into other countries’ networks has enormous defensive value as well. Two nations, neither of which seeks to harm the other but neither of which trusts the other, will often find it prudent to launch intrusions. This general problem, in which a nation’s means of securing itself threatens the security of others and risks escalating tension, is a bedrock concept in international relations and is called the ‘security dilemma’. This book shows not only that the security dilemma applies to cyber operations, but also that the particular characteristics of the digital domain mean that the effects are deeply pronounced. The cybersecurity dilemma is both a vital concern of modern statecraft and a means of accessibly understanding the essential components of cyber operations.
- Reveals the pressure points for international relations precipitated by states’ use of cyber espionage.
- Analyzes many documents leaked by Edward Snowden relating to offensive and defensive cyber operations–the first major book to discuss many of these documents.
- Introduces a new approach that explains how cyber conflict can start, even if no state desires such conflict–an idea of interest to policymakers and scholars alike.
- Drawing on real-life case studies to showcase the dangers of a cyberattack amongst international forces.
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About the Author:
Ben Buchanan is on leave from his professorship at Georgetown University to serve in the White House, where he works on AI, cybersecurity, and international affairs. He is the author of three books, The New Fire (MIT Press, 2022), The Hacker and the State (Harvard University Press, 2020) and The Cybersecurity Dilemma (Oxford University Press, 2017). He was also the Senior Faculty Fellow and Director of the CyberAI Project at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, a five-year, $65 million effort to study AI and international affairs. Ben received his PhD in War Studies from King’s College London, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He earned masters and undergraduate degrees from Georgetown University.
- “The Promise and Peril of Cyber Operations” Ben Buchanan and Ryan Evans, War On The Rocks Podcasts, February 28, 2017.
- “The Cybersecurity Dilemma” Ben Buchanan and Ryan Evans, Woodrow Wilson Center, March 23, 2017 (YouTube video below.)