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Cyber Operations in Conflict: Lessons from Analytic Wargames

This article reports key findings generated by the use of wargames – “an innovative methodology for investigating competition among diverse actors” – to determine the role of cyber operations and “likely strategic preferences” in a variety of crisis scenarios. The authors developed two games, Island Impact and Netwar, and ran them first with university students and security professionals before turning to a survey experiment with 3,000 Internet users. The results of the experiment indicated the use of cyber capabilities produced a moderating influence on conflict escalation “in the shadows,” meaning cyber operations tended to resemble covert acts rather than bombastic, traditional warfighting campaigns. The article also lists other key findings, including: (a) Cyber exchanges may not be escalatory, (b) Cyber deterrence was not the primary focus of cyber behavior, (c) Power differentials have little influence over decision-making, and (d) Regime type often informed strategy choices of players while the nature of the conflict had limited impact on their use of cyber capabilities.
Benjamin Jensen, David Banks
Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (UC Berkeley)
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