WASHINGTON – The Atlantic Council, in partnership with the Cyber Conflict Studies Association, will release tomorrow a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind book on the history of cyber conflicts.

Edited by Atlantic Council Cyber Statecraft Initiative Director Jason Healey, A Fierce Domain: Conflict in Cyberspace, 1986 to 2012, looks back at the major “wake-up calls” that have forced the realization that cyberspace is a harsh place where nations and others contest for superiority. The book identifies key lessons for policymakers, and, most importantly, where these lessons greatly differ from popular myths common in military and political circles.

“Cyber problems today seem both more terrible and intractable because practitioners and policymakers have ignored the history of cyber conflict,” said author Healey. “History is how we learn vicariously from the experience of those who have suffered similar crises before, for cyber as much as any other field.” 

From the history of cyber conflict, key lessons and findings clearly emerge and each of these carries significant policy implications for cyber defenders and policymakers today:

  1. Cyber conflict has changed only gradually over time; thus, historical lessons derived from past cases are still relevant today (though these are usually ignored).
  2. The probability and consequence of disruptive cyber conflict have often been hyped, while the real impacts of cyber intrusions have been consistently underappreciated.
  3. The more strategically significant a cyber conflict is, the more similar it is to conflicts on the land, in the air, and on the sea—with one critical exception: the decisive role of the private sector.

“None [of the cyber attacks highlighted in A Fierce Domain] is a household name, though from the gripping accounts in Mr. Healey’s book many readers will feel they all should be,” writes a June 29 review in The Economist, among other praise. “Mr. Healey’s main message is to urge policymakers to be less secretive and more humble. Too many past attacks remain classified. Officials continue to burble the same warnings and assurances as they did twenty years ago; the public is left in the dark.” 

A Fierce Domain is available on Amazon.com. For more information, please visit /afiercedomain.

The book officially launches tomorrow, July 18, at The George Washington University Alumni House. 


The Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan institution that promotes global security and prosperity. It brings together a uniquely influential network of North American and European leaders and their allies and partners who share a common interest in addressing international challenges. The Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, housed in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, focuses on the overlap of national security and cyber security to foster international cooperation and understanding of new forms of cooperation and conflict in cyberspace.