I am interested in how states compete in the international system by using cyber capabilities as a tool of statecraft. I focus on what is traditionally considered non-violent competition - state activity below the threshold of armed conflict that does not result in grave destruction in human life and property. My research addresses topics such as cyber conflict and escalation, cyber-enabled influence operations on social media, institutional legitimacy, and political communication.
My methodological interests include experiments, wargaming, and textual analysis with focus on semantic network analysis.
Deciphering Cyber Operations: The Use of Experimental Methods for Studying Military Strategic Concepts in Cyberspace
with Seth Hamman, Jack Mewhirter, Richard Harknett
Published in Cyber Defense Review, available here.
Click to Count: The Effects of Non-Partisan Cue Endorsements in Opting for Political Information
with Brian Calfano
The endorser effects literature expects the public to be swayed by cues offered by trusted or liked sources. A useful question for political marketing scholars is whether inherently nonpartisan cues impact public willingness to access nonpartisan political information. We use two social media-based field experiments and two survey-embedded experiments to test whether a randomly assigned visual marketing endorsement of political information by a known nonpartisan organization in paid ads (i.e., the League of Women Voters) encourages users to click on an information video about upcoming elections. We found an overwhelming subject response to the information video when the League of Women Voters (i.e., the endorser) cue is present, relative to the control group that received no cue in either the field or survey experiments (and controlling for partisanship and political interest in the survey experiments).
Published in Journal of Political Marketing, link here.
The Limits of Deterrence and the Need for Persistence
with Michael Fischerkeller and Richard Harknett
National cybersecurity strategy, to be effective, must align with the structural features and operational characteristics of cyberspace. This chapter posits that the strategy of deterrence does not satisfy this requirement. This essay makes three central arguments: first, any security strategy for cyberspace must recognize the unique characteristics of this environment. Second, there is a strategic mismatch between deterrence as a central strategy for cyberspace and the nature of cyberspace. Third, national security, advancement of interests, and the development of international norms require persistent cyber activity, not operational restraint, in an environment of constant contact—a strategy of persistent engagement.
Book chapter, published in The Cyber Deterrence Problem, Aaron Brantly, ed., Rowman and Littlefield. pp.21-38
The Other Means? Examining the Patterns and Dynamics of State Competition in Cyberspace
Finding Pressure Points: Cyber-Enabled Influence Operations and Foreign Interference in Domestic Politics
Responsible Skepticism: Countering Information Warfare in the Digital Age
The emergence of the internet as a central facet of modern society has enabled information warfare to gained new and frightening characteristics. Although individual practices such as propaganda, disinformation and kompromat are all well-established tools of statecraft, platforms like social media have increased their effectiveness whilst eroding the traditional checks used to counter such manipulative practices. Rather than abandoning the digital space, our research explores how the same mechanisms that have facilitated the rise of Fake News can be utilized to remedy the underlying susceptibility within the general population that make such practices effective. Specifically, instead of focusing on counter-narratives, we investigate whether digital advertising can stimulate critical thinking abilities and engender a more responsible approach to digital media. Drawing on past counter-propaganda campaigns from the Cold War, we produced three different advertisements that explicitly addressed the issues of Fake News and media manipulation. We then deployed these advertisements as part of a larger survey experiment conducted prior to the 2018 midterm elections. We found that this approach was successful and that advertisements designed to nurture analytical thinking helped blunt the effectiveness of Fake News on a host of international and domestic issues. ph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.
Making Sanctions Work in Cyber Era: The Case of Iran