Deterrence in Cyberspace: Debating the Right Strategy with Ralph Langner and Dmitri Alperovitch
A range of recent cybersecurity incidents has prompted much discussion on what might be done to head off the threat of devastating cyberattacks. Yet, the issue remains little understood by both policymakers and the public.
On September 20, the 21st Century Defense Initiative at Brookings will host two of the world’s leading experts in cybersecurity to discuss the actualities of cyberdeterrence. Ralph Langner is the president of Langner Communications and led the team that cracked the code revealing the Stuxnet malware’s final target—and its covert origins. Dmitri Alperovitch is the former vice president, threat research, at McAfee and author of the recent report “Revealed: Operation Shady RAT,” which exposed targeted intrusions into over 70 global companies, governments and institutions over the last five years. Langner argues that deterrence is unlikely to prevent intense cyberwar and cyberterrorist attacks because they can be carried out by small international teams and prepared months or years in advance. He also points out cyberattacks against critical infrastructure and terrorist targets such as chemical facilities and nuclear power plants can and must be prevented by solid cyber protection. Alperovitch, on the other hand, presents a case for a strategic declaratory deterrence policy to counter highly destructive cyberthreats from nation-state actors against critical infrastructure and other crucial national security and economic assets.
Senior Fellow Peter W. Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at Brookings and co-author of the recent cybersecurity article “The Wrong War,” will provide introductory remarks and moderate the discussion. After the program, panelists will take audience questions.