USMA Research Unit Affiliation

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2015

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


How do organizations rapidly assess command-level effects of cyber attacks? Leaders need a way of assuring themselves that their organization, people, and information technology can continue their missions in a contested cyber environment. To do this, leaders should: 1) require assessments be more than analogical, anecdotal or simplistic snapshots in time; 2) demand the ability to rapidly model their organizations; 3) identify their organization’s structural vulnerabilities; and 4) have the ability to forecast mission assurance scenarios. Using text mining to build agent based dynamic network models of information processing organizations, I examine impacts of contested cyber environments on three common focus areas of information assurance—confidentiality, integrity, and availability. I find that assessing impacts of cyber attacks is a nuanced affair dependent on the nature of the attack, the nature of the organization and its missions, and the nature of the measurements. For well-manned information processing organizations, many attacks are in the nuisance range and that only multipronged or severe attacks cause meaningful failure. I also find that such organizations can design for resiliency and provide guidelines in how to do so.