Cyberspace Strategic Outlook 2030: Horizon Scanning and Analysis

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) is proud to publish a second volume on Horizon Scanning and Analysis, entitled “Cyberspace Strategic Outlook 2030: Horizon Scanning and Analysis”, edited by Piret Pernik.

The book includes foreword by David van Weel, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges, and six chapters that help inform policy and decision-makers on current and future cyber threats, and possible cyberspace game changers in 2030. The chapters have undergone peer review to ensure their academic quality.

In the opening chapter, James A. Lewis argues that cyber norms and old concepts such as deterrence are insufficient for achieving international stability in cyberspace. He recommends that NATO develop a new conceptual framework and a set of proportional response options to respond to cyberattacks. He observes that political consensus needs to be established in order to exercise these options.

In Chapter Two, Jason Healey and Virpratap Vikram Singh consider the likelihood of geopolitical and cyber tensions escalating into a larger conflict. They develop a matrix of high and low geopolitical and cyber tensions and find that in high-tension contexts, there is an increased likelihood of cyber incidents and escalation of cyber conflict.

In Chapter Three, Franz-Stefan Gady examines the Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) concept of the NATO future operational doctrine, which could link conventional command and control with the nuclear ones. Gady identifies cybersecurity risks related to that development, addresses the possibility of miscalculation in times of crisis, and draws three implications on the deployment of cyberspace operations.

In Chapter Four, Laura G. Brent posits that NATO must act to counter China’s ambitions to become a ‘cyber superpower’ by treating China as a strategic challenge and requiring improved resilience from the Allies in cooperation with the European Union. She draws attention to collective security, which she defines as ‘coordinated and consensus approaches to the broad spectrum of security challenges below the threshold of armed conflict’.

In Chapter Five, Piret Pernik explores global drivers of change relevant to cyberspace that NATO should consider in looking at the 2030 horizon. She contends that the cyber domain is best understood as part of all-domain shaping, contesting, and fighting actions. She says that NATO should study how authoritarian opponents are likely to deploy EDTs and what their strategic thinking and tactical innovations will look like in the new decade. She closes by suggesting for future research for the NATO community.

In the last chapter, Berend Valk illustrates how NATO has implemented cyber norms and confidence- and   measures. The Alliance’s role in norms-building is limited. Valk describes how NATO implements its cyber defence and the SCEPVA mechanism, and recommends integrating the latter into collective defence. He calls for starting discussions on Allied responses to cyberattacks in the grey zone.

The first volume of the Horizon Scanning and Analysis series was published in January 2021.

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