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Capabilities and conflict in the cyber domain: an empirical study

Craig, Anthony 2020. Capabilities and conflict in the cyber domain: an empirical study. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This dissertation is a mixed method, empirical study on the causes and consequences of the proliferation of cyber capabilities among nation states in the international system from 2000 to 2017. National cyber capabilities are defined as the resources and assets used by states to project and resist influence through computer network operations (CNO). They are conceptualised and operationalised from two perspectives. Latent cyber capabilities are the societal resources that governments can draw on, including the programming skill and computer science knowledge of a population. Active cyber capabilities are the institutional developments by governments and militaries to build cyber security preparedness. They include the establishment of a computer security incident response team, a military computer network operations unit, or a national cyber security strategy. Via the quantitative analysis of an original data set (the national cyber capabilities data set), the distribution of latent and active cyber capabilities in the international system is first described and the rate at which active capabilities have been acquired over time is highlighted. By structuring the analysis according to the theory of opportunity and willingness, the findings demonstrate that the adoption of active cyber capabilities is enabled by a country’s latent resources (opportunity) and motivated by its external threat and rivalry environment (willingness). Next, the relationship between capabilities and the occurrence of computer network operations between rival states is investigated. Rather than deter conflict, cyber capabilities are positively associated with cyber-attacks. Finally, a case study of Iran is employed to illustrate how the cumulative findings of the statistical analyses apply in a real-world example. The findings of this dissertation highlight the need to develop alternative strategies for securing cyberspace to those focusing on the pursuit of military based capabilities and threats.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: cyber security, capabilities, power, conflict, opportunity and willingness, proliferation, military buildup, arms race.
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 December 2020
Date of Acceptance: November 2020
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2021 01:41

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