Cybersecurity and Deterrence

Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations

By Herb Lin, Amy Zegart
Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 9:01 PM

Today the Brookings Institution is publishing our edited volume, "Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations." And here is the first introductory chapter, in which we overview the books and its arguments.

The book, which grew out of a Hoover Institution workshop in partnership with U.S. Cyber Command, gathers in one place the thinking of more than 20 distinguished researchers from academia and think tanks as well as former policymakers in the Department of Defense and U.S. intelligence community.

Contributors address four important and interrelated themes regarding the strategic dimensions of offensive cyber operations: cyber strategy and doctrine for offensive use of cyber weapons; operational considerations in using cyber weapons; escalation dynamics and deterrence; and the role and relationship of the private sector to offensive cyber operations. All these themes are even more important now than when we began this project. We hope the book will help policy makers understand how best to integrate offensive cyber capabilities with other instruments of military and national power.

Readers of these chapters may agree or disagree with them individually, but taken as a whole, they clearly demonstrate that it is possible to make considerable headway in understanding offensive cyber operations without access to classified information and without needing an entirely new array of analytical concepts and tools. Indeed, many of the questions and issues that attend to the strategic dimensions of offensive cyber operations arise in other kinds of military operations, but because the cyber domain is unlike other domains of conflict in important ways, some of the answers and responses to these questions and issues in the cyber domain are different.