On October 12, 2017 the National Committee on American Foreign Policy hosted a panel entitled Mutually Assured Disruption: Framing Cybersecurity in Nuclear Terms. The panel followed an all-day conference on the same issue and featured Andrew Futter, Associate Professor of International Politics at the University of Leicester; David Mussington, Director, Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise at the University of Maryland; and Michael Sulmeyer, Director, Cyber Security Project at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The program was moderated by Rafal Rohozinski, CEO of the SecDev Group.
The speakers each took an opportunity to share their views on the nexus between cyber and nuclear security. The shared strategic and technical space of these concerns drive a substantial portion of policy-making decisions, prompting their side-by-side study. Both nuclear and cyber technologies share the capacity to propel immeasurable technical progress. However, they simultaneously offer some of the most alarming strategic threats to U.S. national security.
For much of the 20th Century, nuclear technologies instilled the mantra of 'mutually assured destruction' into the minds of leaders across the world. The global strategic framework rested on the notion of nuclear deterrence, a principle that still drives a great deal of contemporary foreign and military policy. While the cyber era certainly introduces different and ever-shifting variables into the global security calculus, one might suggest that the world has entered a period of mutually assured 'disruption' that coexists within the framework of deterrence.
Following remarks by the speakers, the audience engaged in a lively Q&A session that drew out concerns and divergent views. The conversation continued into the reception where the speakers actively continued to respond to questions and offer advice on how to operate in a world beset by cyber's benefits and concerns.