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

Looking for a paid summer internship?

We are now recruiting Young Global Professionals for Summer 2021!

Applications close Friday, March 26, 2021.

Fellows

Experts

Content

Fri, Sep 17, 2021

How Russia made Apple and Google complicit in its internet crackdown

Just as voting opened in Russia, Apple and Google deleted an app from their stores published by Alexei Navalny's team designed to deliver candidate recommendations. Here's why that signals an international problem.

New Atlanticist by Dylan Myles-Primakoff, Justin Sherman

Cybersecurity Elections

Mon, Sep 13, 2021

Handler and Schroeder on Defense & Aerospace Report’s Cyber Report podcast: Lessons from aircraft hijacking to counter ransomware

On this week’s Cyber Report, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, Simon Handler and Emma Schroeder discuss the new paper “Countering Ransomware: Lessons from Aircraft Hijacking,” with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Cybersecurity Security & Defense

Mon, Sep 13, 2021

Cyber defense across the ocean floor: The geopolitics of submarine cable security

The vast majority of intercontinental global Internet traffic—upwards of 95 percent—travels over undersea cables that run across the ocean floor. The construction of new submarine cables is a key part of the constantly changing physical topology of the Internet worldwide. However, this dependence is not matched by increased security, leaving our undersea cables—the core of the global internet—at risk.

Report by Justin Sherman

Cybersecurity Europe & Eurasia

Thu, Aug 26, 2021

Countering ransomware: Lessons from aircraft hijacking

Ransomware has plagued organizations for more than a decade, but the last three years have experienced a surge in both the number of incidents and the ransoms demanded. To more effectively counter ransomware, the US government should develop a strategy that draws on lessons learned from addressing a surge in aircraft hijackings through the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In-Depth Research & Reports by Simon Handler, Emma Schroeder, Frances Schroeder, and Trey Herr

Cybersecurity Terrorism

Wed, Aug 25, 2021

The 5×5—Cyber capacity and conflict in Africa

We brought together a panel of contributors with various perspectives on the region to break down the state of cybersecurity in Africa and explore where investments in cyber capacity could go the furthest.

The 5×5 by Simon Handler

Africa Cybersecurity

Mon, Aug 9, 2021

2021 Washington, DC Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge Playbook

It’s the Pirated Life for Me: Software, Sanctions and the Deep Blue Sea Scenario Summary Intelligence Report I Intelligence Report I Recommendations Intelligence Report II Intelligence Report II Recommendations Intelligence Report III Intelligence Report III Briefings Intelligence Report III Recommendations Scenario Summary This scenario takes place from February – July of 2021 and focuses on […]

Cyber 9/12 Project

Cybersecurity

Wed, Aug 4, 2021

National Cyber Director Chris Inglis: We need to become a ‘harder target’ for our adversaries

How do you strengthen an entire nation’s cyber defenses? That’s the task facing Inglis, who spoke about his priorities in his new White House role at the Atlantic Council.

New Atlanticist by Katherine Walla

Cybersecurity National Security

Thu, Jul 22, 2021

The 5×5—If it blinks, it sinks: Adventures in securing operational technology

With rising sophistication, automation, and interconnectivity in operational technologies, security has become an overwhelming need.

The 5×5 by Will Loomis, Simon Handler

Cybersecurity Geopolitics & Energy Security

Mon, Jul 19, 2021

FAST THINKING: A turning point on Chinese hacking

What does NATO’s buy-in mean for the world’s response to Chinese hacking? What tools do these allies have to fight back? Our experts messaged us (securely) with the answers.

Fast Thinking by Atlantic Council

Australia China

Thu, Jul 15, 2021

Handler joins Asharq News to discuss ransomware and US cyber strategy

Simon Handler joins Asharq News to discusss ransomware and US cyber strategy.

In the News by Atlantic Council

Arabic Cybersecurity