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The Cybersecurity Dilemma: Hacking, Trust and Fear Between Nations

The Cybersecurity Dilemma: Hacking, Trust and Fear Between Nations


Oxford University Press, 2017


The Cybersecurity Dilemma: Hacking, Trust and Fear Between Nations


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.

About the Author

Dr. Ben Buchanan Headshot

Ben Buchanan

Global Fellow;
Senior Faculty Fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) Assistant Teaching Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service Former Postdoctoral fellow at the Belfer Center's Cyber Security Project, John F. Kennedy School Government, Harvard University
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