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Global Security and Intelligence Studies

Global Security and Intelligence Studies

Abstract

The cyber threat is now a major source of concern in contemporary security affairs and for many governments worldwide cyberspace now represents a new warfighting domain. Given these heightened levels of fear, it is important to ask what steps are being taken by states in response to the threat. A worrying development is the supposed cyber arms race in offensive capabilities given the propensity of these processes to escalate already high levels of tensions between rivals. At the same time, there are suggestions that proper defensive measures have not been given the utmost priority that they arguably should be. Despite speculation, these questions have not been subjected to empirical and data-driven analysis. This article investigates the reaction to the cyber threat by first examining the relationship between threat perception and the presence of offensive capabilities, and then engages the question of whether states are improving their nationwide defensive infrastructure in response to fear. Our results suggest that the heightened perception of threat is indeed linked to the possession of offensive capabilities, but we find little evidence to show that the cyber fear is motivating states to improve their basic cyber hygiene through the use of encrypted server technologies.

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