Emilio Iasiello is the Chief Threat Analyst at iSIGHT Partners, a global cyber intelligence firm, supporting federal and commercial entities to manage cyber risks, understand their threat environment, and help prioritize their investments against those threats impacting their business or mission. He has worked in cyber threat analysis since 2002 both as a government contractor and a government civilian with the Department of State and the Department of Defense, respectively. Emilio has written papers on the development of a new cyber threat analytic methodology, and on the IT Supply Chain.
Cyber Attack: A Dull Tool to Shape Foreign Policy
This paper examines how cyber attacks, if indeed conducted by nation states, have been unsuccessful in supporting states’ foreign policy objectives. By analyzing three prominent case studies, I show that as a result of geopolitical tensions, cyber attacks were implemented to further nation state objectives in support of foreign policy considerations and failed to achieve their respective outcomes despite successful deployment against their intended targets. The three case studies, hypothetical scenarios because attribution has not been confirmed, include: (1) the October 2012 distributed denial of service attacks targeting the U.S. banking sector; (2) the 2012 Stuxnet attack against Iran; and (3) the 2007 cyber attacks against Estonia. I work with the assumption that nation states were orchestrating the attacks through proxies, or else were actual participants, based on intent, motive, and a plethora of circumstantial evidence presented in each scenario. Data has been collected from newspapers, information technology security periodicals, and expert analysis. This paper challenges the notion that states can use the threat of cyber attack to influence an adversarial nation state’s behavior, much the same way the threat of nuclear weapons holds other states in check.