About Me

About Me

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech. I am also an affiliated faculty member of the Hume Center for National Security and Technology and the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought and and a member of the Information, Trust and Society Initiative at Virginia Tech. In addition to my roles at Virginia Tech, I am a cyber policy fellow and senior research scientist for the U.S. Army Cyber Institute at West Point.

Cyberspace is complex and requires a multidisciplinary focus. Together with my colleagues in Virginia Tech’s Integrated Security Destination Area, Integrated Security Education Research Center, The Army Cyber Institute and the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy, we pick apart complex problems and try and provide policy and technically feasible solutions to the State of Virginia, The United States Army Army and the Nation. As a member of these teams, I specifically engage problems through the disciplines of Political Science (International Relations and Comparative Politics) and Computer Science. I focus on issues related to cyber conflict, deterrence, parallel computing, human rights, big data, artificial intelligence, terrorism, encryption and more.

The Decision to Attack: Military and Intelligence Cyber Decision-Making

The debate over cyber technology has resulted in new considerations for national security operations. States find themselves in an increasingly interconnected world with a diverse threat spectrum and little understanding of how decisions are made within this amorphous domain.

With The Decision to Attack, Aaron Franklin Brantly investigates how states decide to employ cyber in military and intelligence operations against other states and how rational those decisions are. In his examination, Brantly contextualizes broader cyber decision-making processes into a systematic expected utility–rational choice approach to provide a mathematical understanding of the use of cyber weapons at the state level.

US National Cybersecurity: International Politics, Concepts and Organization

This volume explores the contemporary challenges to US national cybersecurity.

Taking stock of the field, it features contributions by leading experts working at the intersection between academia and government and offers a unique overview of some of the latest debates about national cybersecurity. These contributions showcase the diversity of approaches and issues shaping contemporary understandings of cybersecurity in the West, such as deterrence and governance, cyber intelligence and big data, international cooperation, and public–private collaboration. The volume’s main contribution lies in its effort to settle the field around three main themes exploring the international politics, concepts, and organization of contemporary cybersecurity from a US perspective. Related to these themes, this volume pinpoints three pressing challenges US decision makers and their allies currently face as they attempt to govern cyberspace: maintaining international order, solving conceptual puzzles to harness the modern information environment, and coordinating the efforts of diverse partners.

The volume will be of much interest to students of cybersecurity, defense studies, strategic studies, security studies, and IR in general.

In the last decade, the proliferation of billions of new Internet-enabled devices and users has significantly expanded concerns about cybersecurity. But should we believe the prophets of cyber war or worry about online government surveillance? Are such security concerns real, exaggerated or just poorly understood?

In this comprehensive text, Damien Van Puyvelde and Aaron F. Brantly provide a cutting-edge introduction to the key concepts, controversies and policy debates in cybersecurity. Exploring the interactions of individuals, groups and states in cyberspace, and the integrated security risks to which these give rise, they examine cyberspace as a complex socio-technical-economic domain that fosters both great potential and peril.

Structured around ten chapters, the book explores the complexities and challenges of cybersecurity using case studies – from the Morris Worm and Titan Rain to BlackEnergy and the Cyber Caliphate – to highlight the evolution of attacks that can exploit and damage individual systems and critical infrastructures. With questions for group discussion and suggestions for further reading throughout, Cybersecurity will be essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the challenges and opportunities presented by the continued expansion of cyberspace.

The national security of the United States depends on a secure, reliable and resilient cyberspace. The inclusion of digital systems into every aspect of US national security has been underway since World War II and has increased with the proliferation of Internet-enabled devices. There is an increasing need to develop a robust deterrence framework within which the United States and its allies can dissuade would-be adversaries from engaging in various cyber activities. Yet despite a desire to deter adversaries, the problems associated with dissuasion remain complex, multifaceted, poorly understood and imprecisely specified.

Challenges, including credibility, attribution, escalation and conflict management, remain ever-present and challenge the United States in its efforts to foster security in cyberspace. These challenges need to be addressed in a deliberate and multidisciplinary approach that combines political and technical realities to provide a robust set of policy options to decision makers.

The Cyber Deterrence Problem brings together a multidisciplinary team of scholars with expertise in computer science, deterrence theory, cognitive psychology, intelligence studies and conflict management to analyze and develop a robust assessment of the necessary requirements and attributes for achieving deterrence in cyberspace. Beyond simply addressing the base challenges associated with deterrence, many of the chapters also propose strategies and tactics to enhance deterrence in cyberspace and emphasize conceptualizing how the United States deters adversaries.

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