On June 8th and 9th, the Cyber Conflict Studies Association and the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs co-hosted the second annual Workshop on the State-of-the-Field of Cyber Conflict. The event brought together practitioners, academics and policymakers to explore the dynamics of cyber conflict: the forces, movements and behaviors of conflict and warfare over and through the Internet, connected devices, and other IT.
 
The SOTF Workshop is perhaps the only cyber-related event which is not dedicated necessarily to finding answers. Rather the SOTF is driven to be sure we are asking the right questions. The participants discussed cyber conflict as a field of research, agreed on primary topic areas of research, reviewed the core questions in each of those topics, created a shared understanding of existing research on those questions, and identified canonical works. The major questions include a wide range, such as: What is cyber power? How is cyber conflict most alike, and most different, from other kinds of conflict? Is it more or less escalatory than conflict in the air, land, sea or space? How can states and non-states encourage restraint?
 
Breakout sessions were scheduled around the following core topics:
  • Economic Impact of Cyber Threats
  • Tactical and Operational Level Dynamics of Cyber Conflict
  • Strategic Dynamics of International Security
  • Intelligence and Adversaries
  • Cyber Conflict History
  • Legal and Ethical Issues
 
Each breakout sessions was led by a moderator who worked with rapporteurs to provide substance and structure the discussion which followed Chatham House rules. In additional to established researchers, PhD candidates played a particularly significant role in the event as both rapporteurs and participants. New scholars are frequently the ones most in need of this material and who can produce literature reviews and research which will fuel future conferences.
 
A link to the 2016 Workshop Report can be downloaded here. CCSA will shortly publish additional material from this second SOTF.  Thanks to the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Columbia’s Global Policy Initiative for their support.