ACI Journal Articles


Cyber Actions by State Actors: Motivation and Utility

Document Type


USMA Research Unit Affiliation

Army Cyber Institute

Publication Date



Covert action is as old as political man. The subversive manipulation of others is nothing new. It has been written about since Sun Tzu and Kautilya. People and nations have always sought the use of shadowy means to influence situations and events. Covert action is and has been a staple of the state system. A dark and nefarious tool often banished to philosophical and intellectual exile, covert action is in truth an oft-used method of achieving utility that is frequently overlooked by academics. Modern scholars contend that, for utility to be achieved, activities such as war and diplomacy must be conducted transparently. Examined here is the construction of utility for a subset of covert action: cyber attacks.

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