Cyber Weapons: What Are They Good For?

There is a growing interest in the use of cyber weapons among states. But despite the increased interest in these capabilities, little is known about the nature of cyber weapons as a tool of the state. In this seminar, Max Smeets will show that they can alter the manner in which countries use their military power in various ways – including to achieve compellence. Attention will also be drawn to problems of conflict escalation and the potential symbolic value of cyber weapons as a 'prestige weapon’ to enhance ‘swaggering’.

Max Smeets is a cybersecurity fellow at Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) and a Research Associate at the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. He is also a non-resident cybersecurity policy fellow at New America.

Max’s current book project focuses on the causes underlying cyber proliferation and restraint. The results of his research are valuable for understanding the likely changes in the future prevalence of ‘cyber weapons’. It clarifies to what degree this is an ‘inevitable’ development – and if/how it can be stopped.

Max was awarded the annual 2018 Amos Perlmutter Prize of the Journal of Strategic Studies for the most outstanding essay submitted for publication by a junior faculty member. In 2015, he also received the Young Writers Award of the German Marshall Fund, for an article written together with George Bogden.

Max was previously a College Lecturer in Politics at Keble College, University of Oxford. He has also held research positions at Oxford Cyber Studies ProgrammeColumbia University SIPASciences Po CERI, and NATO CCD COE.

He holds an undergraduate degree from University College Roosevelt, Utrecht University, an M.Phil (Brasenose College) and DPhil (St. John’s College) in International Relations from the University of Oxford.


All are welcome. Lunch will be provided at 12.15pm.

Places are limited. To book a seat, please register on Eventbrite.