Free USCYBERCOM book download: Cyber Analogies

FREE book download: Cyber Analogies, prepared for U.S. Cyber Command, published by the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).

Zeroes of the second wave preparing to take off from aircraft carrier Shokaku for Pearl Harbor


  • Emily O. Goldman, Senior Advisor, U.S. Cyber Command
  • John Arquilla, Chair, NPS Defense Analysis

Book abstract:

  • This anthology of cyber analogies will resonate with readers whose duties call for them to set strategies to protect the virtual domain and determine the policies that govern it. Our belief is that learning is most effective when the concepts under consideration can be aligned with already-existing understanding or knowledge. Cyber issues are inherently tough to explain in layman’s terms. The future is always open and undetermined, and the number of actors and the complexity of their relations are too great to give definitive guidance about future developments. In this report, historical analogies, carefully developed and properly applied, help indicate a direction for action by reducing complexity and making the future at least cognitively manageable.

My chapter abstract (coauthored with Prof. Peter Feaver of Duke University) examines lessons for cyber security from the "predelegation" of nuclear authority:

  • The speed with which a devastating cyber attack could strike the U.S. means there may be insufficient time for the traditional political-military decision-making process to work. During the Cold War, the U.S. faced a similar challenge in the nuclear domain. To meet this challenge, the nuclear command and control system granted a small number of senior military commanders a “predelegation” of authority to use nuclear weapons in the event of a sudden, catastrophic national security crisis. We review the lessons learned from nuclear predelegation and apply them to the cyber domain. We conclude that the cyber command and control system may need to consider similar predelegation measures in order to defend against some forms of hostile cyber attack. However, there are inherent risks in this policy that are also analogous to the ones confronted in the nuclear era. Counterintuitively, defending the nation against cyber attacks may demand patience rather than predelegation.

Complete chapter list:

  1. Introduction (Emily O. Goldman & John Arquilla)
  2. The Cyber Pearl Harbor (James J. Wirtz)
  3. Applying the Historical Lessons of Surprise Attack to the Cyber Domain: The Example of the United Kingdom (Dr Michael S. Goodman)
  4. The Cyber Pearl Harbor Analogy: An Attacker’s Perspective (Emily O. Goldman, John Surdu, & Michael Warner)
  5. “When the Urgency of Time and Circumstances Clearly Does Not Permit...”: Predelegation in Nuclear and Cyber Scenarios (Peter Feaver & Kenneth Geers)
  6. Comparing Airpower and Cyberpower (Dr. Gregory Rattray)
  7. Active Cyber Defense: Applying Air Defense to the Cyber Domain (Dorothy E. Denning & Bradley J. Strawser)
  8. The Strategy of Economic Warfare: A Historical Case Study and Possible Analogy to Contemporary Cyber Warfare (Nicholas A. Lambert)
  9. Silicon Valley: Metaphor for Cybersecurity, Key to Understanding Innovation War (John Kao)
  10. The Offense-Defense Balance and Cyber Warfare (Keir Lieber)
  11. A Repertory of Cyber Analogies (Robert Axelrod)

For a free copy of Cyber Analogies, click here.