Challenges and Opportunities for Non-State Actors in Deepening Foundations of Cyber Conflict

As we have seen in the recent cyber conflicts involving Estonia and Georgia, as well as prior conflicts involving Chinese patriotic hackers, cyber conflict is far more complicated than traditional state-to-state attacks. The study shall produce a standalone monograph of approximately 100 pages.

Key questions for this study include:
  • What challenges face terrorist groups and other transnational actors in establishing offensive and defensive cyberwarfare capabilities?
  • What relative advantages and disadvantages do non-state actors have in developing capabilities?
    • Using them?
    • Controlling them?
  • How will the variety of trans-state actors (jihadists, anarchists, political activists, criminal organizations, etc) differ in their approaches to the possibilities for cyberwar?
  • Might cyberwarfare provide impetus or significance to the emergence of new forms of conflict or protest?
    • What would be the constraints?
  • Are particular defensive approaches better suited to combating different emerging threats?
  • What would the impact of vigilantes, hacktivists, sympathetic hackers on crisis management and war termination?
  • On the ability of state and non-state actors to mobilize significant capability to conduct cyberwarfare?
  • How might cyberwarfare influence approaches to peacekeeping and peacemaking?
  • Might the possibility for cyberwarfare increase the potential for failed states?
  • How might cyberwar interact with new technologies that will influence conflicts (eg. biological engineering, nanotechnology, etc)?


Study Lead: Dr. Greg Rattray