States and Their Proxies in Cyber Operations

An ancient saying goes that whoever hires Swiss mercenaries wins the war. While Swiss mercenaries are nowadays not as feared as they once were, the Swiss Pontifical Guard still reflects the splendor of Renaissance warriors for hire. Yet the history of mercenary engagement in conflict is not only confined to land warfare. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the high seas were roamed by privateers who deployed their capabilities in favor of states that were unable to realize their goals without them. More recently, in Iraq, private companies such as Academi, Titan Corp., and CACI were widely present in supporting the U.S. military. While such cases as these are well documented in historical and international security literature, overall the phenomenon of “mercenaries” in the digital realm has been largely understudied. Valentin Weber posits that Tim Maurer’s book, “Cyber Mercenaries: The State, Hackers, and Power,” succeeds at filling this void and makes a valuable contribution to the emerging literature of cyber international relations.

Valentin is a D.Phil. Candidate in Cyber Security and a Research Affiliate with the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs at the University of Oxford. His current work analyzes the diffusion of cyber norms.


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