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INNOFFARENA-Innovasjonsarena for stat og kommune

Strategic Cyber Defence: Shaping the Operational Environment

Alternative title: Strategisk cyberforsvar: forming av operasjonsmiljøet

Awarded: NOK 1.8 mill.

Cyber security has evolved from a technical discipline into a matter of national security. Consequently, nations are experimenting with how to defend national interests and enhance sovereignty in the digital domain. There is a growing consensus that strategic approaches to cyber defence must be based on some sort of deterrence. However, it remains unclear how states can communicate their capabilities and intentions credibly to deter cyber attacks. Therefore, this research project will investigate the efficacy of communication activities in supporting cyber defence strategies and enhancing national cyber security. To examine this topic, the research project will be carried out in three parts. First, it will examine existing theories, analytical frameworks and cases used to explain the efficacy of communication strategies for deterrence in other domains. Second, it will perform an empirical study of stated capabilities by a selection of governments and seek to identify trends and patterns in this communication. Finally, it will examine how different ways of communicating national cyber capabilities can impact national cyber security. A combination of rational deterrence theory and communication theory will make up the analytical framework that will be applied to pre-existing and official data on governments’ statements of their capabilities over the last decade. This examination will serve the projects primary objectives (PO) which are to generate empirical and theoretical knowledge about how states communicate about their cyber capabilities (PO 1), and to explain how communication can be used strategically and in different ways to enhance national cyber defence strategies (PO2).

Cyber security has evolved from a technical discipline into a matter of national security. Consequently, nations are experimenting with how to defend national interests and enhance sovereignty in the digital domain. There is a growing consensus that strategic approaches to cyber defence must be based on some sort of deterrence. However, it remains unclear how states can communicate their capabilities and intentions credibly to deter cyber attacks. Therefore, this research project will investigate the efficacy of communication activities in supporting cyber defence strategies and enhancing national cyber security. To examine this topic, the research project will be carried out in three parts. First, it will examine existing theories, analytical frameworks and cases used to explain the efficacy of communication strategies for deterrence in other domains. Second, it will perform an empirical study of stated capabilities by a selection of states and seek to identify trends and patterns in this communication. Finally, it will examine how different ways of communicating national cyber capabilities can have implications for national cyber security. A combination of rational deterrence theory and communication theory will make up the analytical framework in the study. The data compilation will be constructed from pre-existing and official data on governments stated cyber capabilities in the years between 2010 and 2020, a decade where states have sought to position themselves as 'cyber powers'. The potential challenges to this research project are related to data compilation and interpretation. The lack of openly available information on cyber capabilities is an inherent obstacle in research on cyber security. This project's focus on governments' stated capabilities will circumvent this challenge. Correspondingly, the focus on communication activities aimed at an international audience should make the data material understandable and accessible to this research project.

Activity:

INNOFFARENA-Innovasjonsarena for stat og kommune