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Optimizing Cyberdeterrence: A Comprehensive Strategy for Preventing Foreign Cyberattacks

Optimizing Cyberdeterrence: A Comprehensive Strategy for Preventing Foreign Cyberattacks by Robert Mandel. Georgetown University Press, 2017, 302 pp.

In Optimizing Cyberdeterrence: A Comprehensive Strategy for Preventing Foreign Cyberattacks, author and professor Robert Mandel tackles one of the most relevant topics of the Information Age. In an interesting approach that focuses on deterring international cyberattacks rather than internal cyberattacks, the author makes the case that there are underexamined distinctions between cyber deterrence and other types of deterrence.

In the US, major cyber threats mark among the most prevalent security threats to the government and the private sector. With increasing global concern about a cross-border cyber threat, cyberattackers have increased diversity in their motivations, objectives, targets, and attack styles. In an exemplary case from October 2011–February 2012, the Department of Homeland Security reported more than 50,000 cyberattacks on private and government networks with 86 attacks on critical infrastructure networks. Mandel’s work explores the rising and shifting nature of foreign cyber threat dangers and examines the hitherto moderately ineffective target responses. Following an excursion in cyber deterrence paradoxes revolving around ideal cyber deterrence dynamics, the author presents a list of hurdles to forward progress. Within this list, he addresses obstacles to meaningful cyber deterrence improvement and the roots of cyber deterrence failure. Perhaps the most intriguing section of the book details case studies from 12 major global

twenty- first-century cyberattacks, which have been scrutinized in detail. Based on these findings, Mandel suggests specific, feasible ways to improve cyber deterrence planning and execution. Herein, needed conditions under the suggested approaches that optimally serve the purpose of cyber deterrence, in addition to the counterpart approach of worst-case scenarios in cases where cyber deterrence is neglected are unveiled. This work omits to deter internal cyberattacks and focuses on major cyberattacks that threaten state and human security rather than cyberattacks with minor impacts or those which are non- security-oriented or profit-related. This demarcation provides a better understanding of cyber deterrence as a whole since the potential inclusion of additional shades of cyber deterrence could indeed complicate the reading comprehension. In concluding annotations an overarching analysis sheds light on ways to integrate and stabilize cyber deterrence, cogitate cyber deterrence legitimacy and ethics predicaments, address cyber deterrence paradoxes, and predict future cyber deterrence prospects.

Cyber deterrence entails a convoluted landscape for reader navigation. An intricate mixture of the deterrent declaration, penalty measures, credibility, and fear across subject areas such as cyberterrorism and national security effortlessly captures the reader in a whirlpool of arcane technical jargon and obscure acronyms. Nonetheless, one of the key strengths of this book is the author’s decision to avoid such confusing elements. In this work, Mandel summarizes key insights in tables and figures, providing an opportunity for both novice readers and experts to gain insight into security opportunities, limitations, and trade-offs surrounding foreign cyber deterrence. Overall, this reviewer enjoyed reading Optimizing Cyberdeterrence: A Comprehensive Strategy for Preventing Foreign Cyberattacks and recommends it.

Dr. Amir S. Gohardani, Springs of Dreams Corporation

The views expressed in the book review are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense.
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