Issue Brief November 22, 2019

What do we know about cyber escalation? Observations from simulations and surveys

By Benjamin Jensen and Brandon Valeriano

Do cyber operations alter how states respond to international crises in a way that creates incentives for decision makers to cross the Rubicon and use military force to settle disputes? This question is central to current cyber strategy debates and the idea of persistent engagement and defending forward in cyberspace. The answer is surprising: no. Based on the evidence, cyber operations offer a valuable escalatory offramp.