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Optimizing Cyberdeterrence: A Comprehensive Strategy for Preventing Foreign Cyberattacks, Robert Mandel

Reviewed by Herbert Lin

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This book is a recent addition to the growing literature on cyberwar, cyberconflict, and cyberdeterrence. Its major claim is that it seeks to provide “a distinctive strategic vision for cyberdeterrence to restrain foreign-based cyberattacks,” contrasting a “traditional, narrow, direct deterrence (such as Cold War nuclear deterrence) . . . with a broader, more inclusive cyberdeterrence designed to alter the cyberattacker's decision calculus” through “a fluid, integrated mix of strategies that is sensitive to differing circumstances” (p. 1).

A worthy goal indeed. But Optimizing Cyberdeterrence was published in 2017, and the idea that nuclear deterrence is a poor model for cyberdeterrence is pretty old. Indeed, the author quotes a 2010 article by former deputy secretary of defense William Lynn that says, “Cold War deterrence models of assured retaliation do not apply to cyberspace” (p. 4). So that cannot be the book's primary contribution.

Is it new to talk about “a more inclusive cyberdeterrence designed to alter the cyberattacker's decision calculus” through a “fluid, integrated mix of strategies that is sensitive to differing circumstances”? No, M. Elaine Bunn in 2007 took note of a George W. Bush administration shift “from a one-size-fits-all notion of

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