Ahead of the 2020 elections, the National Security Agency has created a new task force set to battle Russian election influence.  Leaders are using what they learned in their online fight against ISIS to help inform their battle against Russian interference.

Scott Shackelford, an associate professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, serves as cybersecurity program chair at IU and is director of the Ostrom Workshop Program on Cybersecurity and Internet Governance. He is also a senior fellow at IU’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, an academic director of the IU Cybersecurity Clinic and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Deterring cyberattacks is no easy feat," said Shackelford. "Non-proliferation models from the nuclear era, for example, are of little use given how widespread the technology has become, along with ongoing issues with attribution. Traditionally, the strategies were either to harden your own systems against such attacks, making it difficult or time consuming for an adversary to breach them, or, as we see here, go on the offense. The former has proven to be difficult given that over 85-percent of U.S. critical infrastructure is in private hands, and the U.S. government has been hesitant to place stringent requirements on these firms to better protect the infrastructure they protect."

Going on the offense does make strategic sense, but there were also good reasons why previous administrations did not go too far down this road, namely the issue that the U.S. is still among the most cyber-dependent nations in the world, one that is rife with vulnerabilities," he added. "In other words, we all live in glass houses, and with the stones only getting bigger, we need to balance strategic gains against the dangers of putting civilian institutions in the crosshairs."

Shackelford is also an affiliated scholar at both the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society.

To speak with Shackelford, contact Nicole Wilkins, Indiana University, [email protected], 812-856-2119.