A grant through the Department of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative allows SIWPS to carry out foundational research into cyber conflict and strategy. The main effort at SIWPS researches the dynamics of cyber conflict – what is true or believed to be true about cyber conflict, such as the difficulty of attribution, lack of strong borders, or that attacks can happen at “network speed.” Such dynamics are cited in every research paper and government strategy but to date, there has not been a complete, structured discussion of these dynamics from first principles. This research, conducted by SIWPS members Robert Jervis and Jason Healey, is the first comprehensive framework of the dynamics of cyber conflict.

A related effort analyzes the new U.S. strategy of persistent engagement. It is not an exaggeration that the U.S. position is increasingly that “the best defense is a good offense.” The central part of this work examines the history of cyber deterrence and active defense and the possible feedback loops through which the new U.S. strategy might dampen or amplify conflict. The research has also identified five minimum requirements for persistent engagement to succeed. A complementary effort, in partnership with Neil Jenkins of the Cyber Threat Alliance, is researching possible metrics for the government, private sector, and academics to assess if the strategy is working as intended.