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Title: Cybersecurity and non-state actors : a historical analogy with mercantile companies, privateers, and pirates
Author: Egloff, Florian J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 8777
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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The thesis investigates how the historical analogy to mercantile companies, privateers, and pirates between the 16th and 19th century can elucidate the relationship between non-state actors and states in cyber(in-)security, and how such an application changes our understanding of cyber(in-)security. It contributes to a better integration of non-state actors into the study of cyber(in-)security and international security by clarifying the political challenges raised by the interaction between these players and states. Drawing on the literature of non-state armed actors, the thesis defines a spectrum of state proximity to develop an analytical framework categorizing actors as state, semi-state, and non-state. The historical investigation utilizes primary and secondary sources to explore three periods in British naval history: the late 16th, late 17th, and mid-19th centuries. A comparison of the two security domains - the sea and cyberspace - identifies the pre-18th century periods as the most useful analogues for cyber(in-)security. The thesis evaluates the analogy by conducting empirical case studies. First, the case of the attacks against Estonia (2007) and three criminal court cases against Russian hackers (2014/2017) examine the analogy to pirates and privateers. Second, the analogy to mercantile companies focuses on the attacks against Google (2009), the attacks against Sony Pictures Entertainment (2014), and the collaboration between large technology companies and Five-Eyes signals intelligence agencies. The thesis makes three main claims: first, the analogy to piracy and privateering provides a new understanding of how state proximity is used politically by attackers and defenders, and offers lessons for understanding attribution in cyberspace. Second, the longevity of historical privateering sheds light on the long-term risks and rewards of state collaboration with cyber criminals, and offers insight into the political constitution of cyber(in-)security. Third, the mercantile company lens improves our understanding of how cooperative and conflictive relations between large technology companies and states influence cyber(in-)security.
Supervisor: Kello, Lucas Sponsor: Clarendon Fund ; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cybersecurity ; International Relations ; Non-State Actors ; Intelligence Studies ; Cyber(in-)security ; Semi-State Actors ; Cyber Operations