Foreign Affairs: The Case for Cyber-Realism

Geopolitical Problems Don’t Have Technical Solutions

12/14/2021 | Dmitri Alperovitch

In a new piece for Foreign Affairs, Silverado's Co-Founder and Executive Director Dmitri Alperovitch's makes the case for a realist approach to cyber issues:

"Vulnerability to cyberattacks is not a technical problem that hardened defenses or narrow, cyber-focused deterrence can fix. Cyberattacks are a symptom, not a disease; the underlying conditions are broader geopolitical problems that demand geopolitical solutions—namely high-level negotiations with adversaries in the pursuit of agreements that all parties can live with.

As the range of cyberthreats multiplies and the frequency and severity of attacks increase, Washington needs a dose of cyber-realism. It must treat cyberthreats as a geopolitical and national security priority that demands hard-nosed diplomacy—backed by all of the United States’ tools for gaining leverage—to entice or threaten U.S. adversaries into changing their behavior, as Obama did in 2015. The specific carrots and sticks will need to be tailored to each adversary, taking into account its unique geopolitical ambitions. But the sticks will have to include more aggressive deterrence, aimed not just at the hostile military and intelligence agencies that perpetrate cyberattacks but at the regimes to which those agencies answer. Cyberspace is not an isolated realm of its own, after all, but an extension of the broader geopolitical battlefield."

Read Dmitri's full analysis here.



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