The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security works to develop sustainable, nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the United States and the world.

What is cyber statecraft?

Cyber statecraft is the use of technology to achieve strategic ends. Cyber statecraft is in a government’s design of data governance regulations to punish foreign firms, in a technology company’s decision to unmask a national intelligence operation, and in the military’s use of cyber effects to support forces on a kinetic battlefield. As private firms expand their authority over internet infrastructure, content, and activities they too become influential geopolitical players. As states assimilate technology into new domains of conventional warfare, surveillance, and security regulation, they fuse choices in technology design to political debate. 

This is the conduct of cyber statecraft, at the nexus of technology and geopolitics.  

The insecurity of widely used technology systems, from planes, to routers, to automobiles presents a marked danger to economic and social health. Adversaries present novel threats to well-established policy processes and demand action in new domains and in new forms from policymakers. The Cyber Statecraft Initiative presents substantive analysis from those closest to the issues, leveraging the Scowcroft Center’s innate expertise and a network of fellows to shift attention from singular incidents to the slow but tectonic nature of strategic change. 

Our pillars

Cyber operations and defense policy

Cyber capabilities are an increasingly common feature on modern battlefields and shape the conduct of statecraft. The development of these capabilities must now factor into debates about doctrine, force structure, and innovation. Our work looks at the broad policy landscape around cyber capabilities including the secure acquisition and operation of software intensive defense systems, modern security assistance, the proliferation of cyber capabilities, and network exploitation on the boundaries of electronic warfare. 

Internet and systems security

An interconnected system of global networks, the internet provides a massive platform for conducting commerce and linking people across international community. Organizations of all shapes and sizes depend on the internet. We work to support and advise governments and the private sector working to secure the internet from degradation, malign influence, and direct harm. We advocate for US global leadership and empowered user communities by convening practitioners to ensure a free, secure, and open internet. 

Communities of cyberspace

Cybersecurity continues to expand and with it the need for a trained and talented workforce in nations of all sizes. The size of this workforce continues to lag demand, particularly for those who can translate between policy and technology. Through our Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, we seek to tackle the global cyber skills shortage with iterated crisis simulation, policy analysis, and mentorship. Part interactive learning experience, part competitive scenario exercise, Cyber 9/12 challenges student teams from a range of academic disciplines to respond to a realistic and evolving scenario. Teams analyze threats and develop responses to manage an escalating crisis, with built in feedback loops from expert judges.

Cyber safety

The convergence of the digital and physical worlds through embedded computing and the Internet of Things impacts the technology marketplace and geopolitical dynamics through systems people interact with every day. We seek to identify and influence key policy debates on the security of operational technologies across the United States, European Union, and Asia, driving collaborative efforts to focus on healthcare devices, maritime systems, and aerospace technologies.

Analysis and in-depth research

Our articles, issue briefs, and reports consist of notes from the field and analysis from our team—insights to give you practical leverage on the complex challenges of cybersecurity. A synthesis of technical systems and policy dynamics, cybersecurity demands detailed understanding to create meaningful change. These analyses dig deep into the concepts and assumptions that shape the geopolitics of cybersecurity. 

Events and convening

Leadership

Opportunities

Introducing the Young Global Professionals Program

Sat, Oct 24, 2020

Atlantic Council’s Young Global Professionals Program – Spring 2021 (Paid)

Internship

The Young Global Professionals (YGP) Program, the Atlantic Council’s paid internship program, is designed to provide exceptional young people with in-depth exposure to international affairs and an opportunity to play an active role in shaping real-world solutions to global challenges. The Atlantic Council is non-partisan and welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds. International applicants are encouraged to apply.

Fellows

Experts

Content

Mon, Jan 11, 2021

2021 DC Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

The Atlantic Counci’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative will hold its second entirely virtual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge on March 4-5, 2021. In lieu of our annual in-person challenge, we will host the entire event over the Zoom platform. The agenda and format will look very similar to past Cyber 9/12 Challenges, except that it will be held remotely. Plenary […]

Cyber 9/12 Project

Cybersecurity

Tue, Dec 22, 2020

A cyber wish list at a ‘moment of reckoning’

The recent SUNBURST compromise of numerous government and private sector company networks has led some, including Microsoft President Brad Smith, to dub the incident a “moment of reckoning.” Here's what our experts are wishing for this holiday season.

New Atlanticist by Simon Handler

Cybersecurity Disinformation

Mon, Dec 21, 2020

To defend US elections, we must recognize that the fault is in ourselves

It is time to put money toward state information infrastructure, to align public expectations with the pace of the democratic process, and to hold elected leaders accountable for lighting fires in information dumpsters.

New Atlanticist by Nina Kollars and Michael Rodriguez

Cybersecurity Disinformation

Tue, Dec 15, 2020

Which hacker group is most like your astrological sign?

Which cyber Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is most like your astrological sign? After all, behind every cyber operation is a human, led by his or her values and decisions, which can be shaped by one’s astrological sign. These APT-sign pairings provide a guide to some of the most dangerous cyber threat actors and perhaps even a forecast of their prospects for success.

New Atlanticist by Safa Shahwan Edwards and June Lee

Cybersecurity Internet

Mon, Dec 14, 2020

How do you fix a flying computer? Seeking resilience in software-intensive mission systems

Defense organizations, by nature, confront unanticipated and highly impactful disruptions. They must adapt complex mission systems to withstand these disruptions and accomplish defined objectives. To ensure mission systems like the F-35 remain available, capable, and lethal in conflicts to come demands the United States and its allies prioritize the resilience of these systems.

Report by Trey Herr, Reed Porada, Simon Handler, Orton Huang, Stewart Scott, Robert Lychev, and Jeremy Mineweaser

Cybersecurity Defense Industry

Thu, Dec 3, 2020

Why we fight: Learning from the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Competitors finish the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge better prepared to communicate their ideas, better prepared to address the complex threat-filled environment presented by modern cybersecurity, and better prepared to contribute new ideas and new thinking that may someday help to reduce the risks of unnecessary conflict carried out through the cyber domain. These are all good reasons to compete.

Blog Post by Robert Carolina

Cybersecurity Defense Policy

Wed, Nov 18, 2020

Huawei’s push in Russia exploits Kremlin fears of Western technology

With Moscow yearning for an alternative to Western technology and the United States on a campaign to throw Huawei out of Europe and East Asia, the Chinese telecom giant sensed opportunity in Russia.

New Atlanticist by Justin Sherman

China Cybersecurity

Tue, Nov 17, 2020

FAST THINKING: Trump fires top DHS cybersecurity official over election protection

Donald Trump escalated his attacks on the integrity of the US election process Tuesday night, firing a top Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity official who spent the last weeks debunking many of the president’s false claims about election fraud.

Fast Thinking by Atlantic Council

Cybersecurity Disinformation

Sun, Nov 8, 2020

Austin, Texas Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge Playbook

Power’s Out, Election in Doubt Scenario Summary Intelligence Report I Intelligence Report I Recommendations Intelligence Report II Intelligence Report II Recommendations Intelligence Report III Scenario Summary This scenario takes place from September to November of 2020, shining a light on a dire possibility–how can the United States respond to a cyberattack on the power grid […]

Cyber 9/12 Project

Cybersecurity Elections

Thu, Oct 29, 2020

Trick or Threat? The ghouls and goblins behind this year’s cyber incidents

This year has witnessed its fair share of unnerving cyber incidents from a range of spooky characters. But 2020 is not over yet. What further ghouls and goblins might lurk? Cyber Statecraft Initiative experts go CSI5x5 to discuss spine-chilling cyber incidents this Halloween.

New Atlanticist by Simon Handler

Cybersecurity Disinformation