Countering Non-State Actors in Cyberspace

Jamie MacColl, Tim Stevens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the use of offensive cyber operations by three Western powers (US, UK, Australia) against organised criminals and non-state armed groups. Through the case studies of counter-ISIS operations in 2016-17 and more recent initiatives against ransomware actors, it demonstrates the aims and methods used by state agencies to degrade non-state capacities through cyber means. As these are some of the main case studies of offensive cyber operations in practice available to researchers, they occupy an important, if relatively under-explored, position in the academic and policy landscapes. The chapter outlines the main characteristics of these operations and their roles in expressing and shaping national and collective approaches to offensive cyber operations. It concludes with a consideration of some of the challenges that emerge from the use of offensive cyber capabilities against non-state actors, including measurement of effects and efficacy, their legal and ethical status, and their role as tools of statecraft.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Cyberwarfare
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar
Publication statusSubmitted - 12 Jan 2024

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