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Crisis and escalation in cyberspace

Crisis and escalation in cyberspace

Libicki, Martin C., author

"The chances are growing that the United States will find itself in a crisis in cyberspace, with the escalation of tensions associated with a major cyberattack, suspicions that one has taken place, or fears that it might do so soon. The genesis for this work was the broader issue of how the Air Force should integrate kinetic and nonkinetic operations. Central to this process was careful consideration of how escalation options and risks should be treated, which, in turn, demanded a broader consideration across the entire crisis-management spectrum. Such crises can be managed by taking steps to reduce the incentives for other states to step into crisis, by controlling the narrative, understanding the stability parameters of the crises, and trying to manage escalation if conflicts arise from crises."--Page 4 of cover

eBook, Paperback, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published Santa Monica, CA : RAND 2012

This resource is available electronically from the following locations


Statement of responsibility: Martin C. Libicki
ISBN: 0833076787, 0833076795, 0833076809, 9780833076786, 9780833076793, 9780833076809
Note: Print version record and CIP data provided by publisher; resource not viewed.
Note: "Prepared for the United States Air Force ... Rand Project Air Force."
Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 163-172).
Physical Description: 1 online resource (xxvi, 172 pages) : color charts
Subject: TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING Military Science.; United States. Air Force Decision making.; Cyberterrorism Prevention.; COMPUTERS Networking Security.; Conflict management.; Cyberspace Security measures.; Escalation (Military science); Information warfare United States.; Crisis management Government policy United States.; United States. Air Force Organization.
Local note: JSTOR Books at JSTOR Open Access


  1. Avoiding crises by creating norms
  2. Narratives, dialogues, and signaling
  3. Escalation management
  4. Strategic stability
  5. Conclusions and recommendations for the Air Force
  6. Introduction
  7. Some hypothetical crises
  8. Mutual mistrust is likely to characterize a cyber crisis
  9. States may have room for maneuver in a cyber crisis
  10. A note on methodology
  11. Purpose and organization
  12. Avoiding crises by creating norms
  13. What kind of norms might be useful?
  14. Enforce laws against hacking
  15. Disassociate from freelance hackers
  16. Discourage commercial espionage
  17. Be careful about the obligation to suppress cyber traffic
  18. How do we enforce norms?
  19. Confidence-building measures
  20. Norms for victims of cyberattacks
  21. Norms for war?
  22. Deception
  23. Military necessity and collateral damage
  24. Proportionality
  25. Reversibility
  26. Conclusions
  27. Narratives, dialogue, and signals
  28. Narratives to promote control
  29. A narrative framework for cyberspace
  30. Victimization, attribution, retaliation, and aggression
  31. Victimization
  32. Attribution
  33. Retaliation
  34. Aggression
  35. Emollients: narratives to walk back a crisis
  36. We did nothing
  37. Well, at least not on our orders
  38. It was an accident
  39. This is nothing new
  40. At least it does not portend anything
  41. Broader considerations
  42. Signals
  43. Ambiguity in signaling
  44. Signaling resolve
  45. Signaling that cyber combat is not kinetic combat
  46. Conclusions
  47. Escalation management
  48. Motives for escalation
  49. Does escalation matter?
  50. Escalation risks
  51. Escalation risks in phase
  52. Escalation risks for contained local conflicts
  53. Escalation risks for uncontained conflicts
  54. Managing proxy cyberattacks
  55. What hidden combatants imply for horizontal escalation
  56. Managing overt proxy conflict
  57. The difficulties of tit-for-tat management
  58. The importance of pre-planning
  59. Disjunctions among effort, effect, and perception
  60. Inadvertent escalation
  61. Escalation into kinetic warfare
  62. Escalation into economic warfare
  63. Sub rosa escalation
  64. Managing the third-party problem
  65. The need for a clean shot
  66. Inference and narrative
  67. Command and control
  68. Commanders
  69. Those they command
  70. Conclusions
  71. Implications for strategic stability
  72. Translating sources of cold war instability to cyberspace
  73. What influence can cyberwar have if nuclear weapons exist?
  74. Can cyberwar disarm another state's nuclear capabilities?
  75. Can cyberwar disarm another states cyberwarriors?
  76. Does cyberwar lend itself to alert-reaction cycles?
  77. Are cyberdefenses inherently destabilizing?
  78. Would a cyberspace arms races be destabilizing?
  79. Misperception as a source of crisis
  80. Side takes great exception to cyberespionage
  81. Defenses are misinterpreted as preparations for war
  82. Too much confidence in attribution
  83. Too much confidence in or fear of pre-emption
  84. Supposedly risk-free cyberattacks
  85. Neutrality
  86. Conclusions
  87. Can cyber crises be managed?
  88. A. Distributed denial-of-service attacks
  89. B. Overt, obvious, and covert cyberattacks and responses
  90. Can good cyberdefenses discourage attacks?
  91. Bibliography
  92. Figures
  93. Figure 1: Alternative postures for a master cyber narrative
  94. Figure 2: Sources of imprecision in tit for tat
  95. Figure 3: An inadvertent path to mutual escalation
  96. Figure A-1: Configuring networks to limit the damage of DDoS attacks
  97. Table
  98. Overt, obvious, and covert cyberattacks and responses.