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Optimizing deterrence strategies in state-state cyber conflicts theoretical models for strategic cyber deterrence

Al Azwani, N. (2020). Optimizing deterrence strategies in state-state cyber conflicts theoretical models for strategic cyber deterrence. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Deterrence has successfully prevented nuclear confrontation for more than five decades. The motive for conducting this research is to response to the problem of cyber threat growth and find out if deterrence is able to stop state cyber adversaries from utilizing cyber threats against its cyber space. A considerable effort of defensive cyber technologies and solutions have been developed, although massive cyber-attacks are still occurring and growing in terms of complexity, severity and quantity. For that, States need a new tactic to deal with cyber threats rather than relying only on cyber defense or offense. However, there is a satisfactory chance for cyber deterrence to work despite of challenges. Research approach is to examine cyber deterrence theory inspired by traditional deterrence theory combined with game theory models. This approach respond to the argument via three dimensions. First, it responds to analyze relevance of credibility to deterrence assumptions and the reasons beyond associating credibility of cyber threat with cyber deterrence strategy and its role either success or failure of deterrence strategy. The developed analytical model consists of two players involved in a cyber conflict. The selected case study assist in generating clear understanding of the pivotal role of credibility to support optimizing deterrence strategy from real life context. Second, cyber escalation model developed reflecting the failure of cyber threat credibility (as a threat of punishment) in deterring state cyber adversaries. The model has attempted to explore nature of cyber escalation ladder either it is going to be limited within cyber space or might exceed to involve nuclear or other domains of conflicts. Third, deterrence by entanglement model as a new approach could be the best approach for succeeding cyber deterrence strategy compared to other traditional deterrence model. Deterrence by entanglement model analysis has moved from general deterrence concepts to more narrowed investigation measuring effectiveness of deterrence by entanglement in reducing conflict heat. It explores the degree to which cyber deterrence by entanglement can assist state in deterring its cyber adversaries within more peacefully approach. Each chapter is concluded with a section that prescribes certain strategies which states can benefit from in real life practice. These strategies and learned lessons will assist states to understand the essential requirements for developing its credibility in cyber space and draw the lines for states optimizing its cyber deterrence.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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