Cyber Institutions & Sub-optimal Logic of Cyber Deterrence

  • Speaker: Nadiya Kostyuk, Doctoral Student, University of Michigan & Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Tufts University Cybersecurity Policy Program
  • Date & Time: Oct 2, 2019, 12:30 pm
  • Location: Cabot 205, Fletcher School
Nadiya Kostyuk

Abstract: Can states make cyber deterrence work? Empirical research on cyber deterrence has told us relatively little about the deterrence ability of cyber institutions — publicly observable efforts aimed at signaling a country’s level of cyber offensive capability and doctrine behind its use. Using an incomplete-information model, Kostyuk will demonstrate that cyber institutions deter adversaries only in limited cases and, despite this, states tend to sub-optimally over-invest resources in these institutions. In particular, weak states tend to over-invest in order to convince adversaries that they are strong whereas strong states over-invest so that adversaries do not begin to believe that they are weak states pretending to be strong.

In this talk, Kostyuk will establish empirical plausibility of her results by using a series of interviews of cybersecurity experts and intelligence reports. Kostyuk will focus on the strategic logic of cyber institutions as a deterrent represents a departure from existing literature and has important policy implications.