Informing US cyber strategy

Debate is underway on revisions to the National Cyber Strategy and an update to the US “Defense Cyber Strategy/Defend Forward.” The 2018 National Cyber Strategy represented a significant shift toward a more proactive and expansive approach to cyber conflict, but much remains to be understood about the potential consequences of conflict in cyberspace, including how a Defend Forward posture would affect the stability of the domain as well as the cyber posture of US adversaries and partners.

To inform these debates, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, offers the Cyber Strategy Series to curate and present new and expanded perspectives on the most pressing topics in cybersecurity strategy. This series is intended to challenge assumptions and spark productive debate, to contribute to a better understanding of how the United States and its allies and partners can and should operate in the cyber domain. 

In-depth research

Issue Brief

Jan 31, 2022

What do we know about cyber operations during militarized crises?

By Michael Fischerkeller

This essay focuses on how cyber operations employed during militarized crises are likely to impact escalation management. Cyber operations intended as offramps in a crisis could have an outcome opposite than that intended. Given the absence of direct experience, policymakers must critically examine assumptions and claims that cyber operations can serve as de-escalatory crisis offramps.


Issue Brief

Mar 30, 2022

Preparing the next phase of US cyber strategy

By Jenny Jun

This paper considers tensions in the current US cyber strategy for the Defense Department and the broader cyber policy community in the Biden-Harris administration as they form the next phase of the strategy and determine how, when, and under what conditions Defend Forward can best serve as a means to the goal of achieving superiority in cyberspace.


Short-form content


May 9, 2022

Assumptions and hypotheticals: First edition

By Yumi Gambrill and Emma Schroeder

The first edition of “Assumptions and Hypotheticals” considers several ongoing debates, including the escalatory potential of cyber operations, the measure of deniability created through the use of proxies, and the offense-defense balance in cyber engagements. 


The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, works at the nexus of geopolitics and cybersecurity to craft strategies to help shape the conduct of statecraft and to better inform and secure users of technology.