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Thu, Apr 30, 2020

Loose cobras: DPRK regime succession and uncertain control over offensive cyber capabilities

Unconfirmed rumors surfaced in mid April 2020 regarding the potential incapacitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, leading to speculation about the ramifications of a sudden transition of leadership in Pyongyang. These rumors raise serious concerns over the stability of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) control of offensive cyber operations capabilities.

Issue Brief by JD Work

Cybersecurity East Asia

JD Work is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative. He serves as the Bren Chair for Cyber Conflict and Security at the Marine Corps University, where he leads research to develop the theory, practice, and operational art of the cyber warfighting function, and to explore the wider role of the cyber instrument in national security strategy, and the future defense competition and stability problem space.

Mr. Work has over two decades experience working in cyber intelligence and operations roles for the private sector and US government. He previously directed multiple international research programs to provide insight into the emerging strategic issues, economic consequences, and technology implications created by hostilities in the virtual domain. This work has sought to establish a reliable baseline of observations regarding the engagements, follow on effects, capabilities, doctrine, and drivers behind the antagonistic action of potential combatants in the networked environment, in order to support early warning, crisis management and crisis prevention in and through cyberspace.

Mr. Work holds additional affiliations with Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies as well as George Washington University, Elliot School of International Affairs. He further serves as a senior advisor to the US Cyberspace Solarium Commission.