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Attributing Cyber Attacks

This article introduces the “Q Model,” a model designed to “explain, guide, and improve the making of attribution” in cyberspace. Authors Rid and Buchanan hope the model can dismantle commonly held notions of attribution – that it is an “intractable technical problem” which grants advantages to weak non-state aggressors – and encourage an understanding of attribution as “an art as much as a science” and a nuanced, non-binary process that operates in shades of grey. Rid argues the Q Model achieves three goals: to encourage critical thinking by helping analysts investigate a full range of questions, to “integrate technical and non-technical information into competing hypotheses, and to guide the external discussion of attribution – an important step that could determine political response with serious consequences. The article concludes by recognizing a few limitations to the quality of attribution: the availability of resources and time, as well as the sophistication of the adversary.
Thomas Rid, Ben Buchanan
The Journal of Strategic Studies
Domains-Issue Area: 
Industry Focus: 
Information & Telecommunication
Internet & Cyberspace