The Future of War?

Part of AICGS’ newest report Moving Beyond Cyber Wars: A Transatlantic Dialogue, Kent Logsdon calls for increased cooperation and diplomacy in responding to cyberthreats.

Just as people expect government to defend the physical world, they also expect government to protect the cyber realm. Governments must have the means to hold criminals and non-state and state rogue actors in the cyber world accountable. They must be able to discover, attribute, and disrupt their actions. Governments must also create a resilient and robust digital infrastructure. These dual requirements are at the basis of a new policy in the U.S. known as the “Vulnerability Equity Process.” It evolved out of a series of discussions among U.S. government agencies and the private sector about how we can best protect and defend our cyber interests. The key tenets of this policy are transparency, accountability, and most important, informed dialogue. […] When cyber weapons are developed and implemented without consideration of the damage they can cause or the liability they bring, that impacts us all. The number of recent cyber incidents, in the past year alone, demonstrates the need for enhanced cooperation and a discussion of norms.

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What is the correct response to these cyber incidents? Well, there are a number of answers to that question.

First, the United States is not afraid to call out countries and hold governments accountable. We have done that in identifying Russia as responsible for the deliberate NotPetya malware attack against Ukraine.

Second, the United States will use the tools of diplomacy and statesmanship. This includes sanctions as a response to cyber incidents.

Third, we will also use law enforcement. In 2014, the United States indicted Chinese military hackers. Earlier this year, thirteen Russians were criminally charged for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

Fourth, at times, our response will include cyber tools. One of the best tools we have to understand and get to the attribution of cyberattacks is our ability to hack back at the hackers.

Finally, we need to fight efforts by authoritarian states that use so-called “cybersecurity” arguments to lock down the Internet and repress their citizens.

And so, let me conclude where I began, with the need for increased cooperation. There are a number of ways we are using diplomacy to try to develop and implement the norms we need for a secure and prosperous cyberworld. And our efforts are stronger if we are united in our approach. That’s why the time invested in this Transatlantic Cybersecurity Dialogue, and in our broader ongoing transatlantic dialogue, is so important.


This text is adapted from Mr. Logsdon’s speech in Munich on March 15, 2018, at the Transatlantic Cybersecurity Partnership’s second conference.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.

Kent Logsdon

U.S. Department of State

Kent Logsdon was the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin until July 2018 and served as the Deputy Chief of Mission there beginning in August 2015. Prior to coming to Berlin, Mr. Logsdon was the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources in Washington, DC. Prior to this, he served as Deputy Executive Secretary of the State Department. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Logsdon’s previous positions include Director of the Operations Center, Director of the Office of Russian Affairs, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has also served as Political Counselor in Kyiv, Ukraine; and held a variety of positions in Bangkok, Thailand; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Islamabad, Pakistan. His first tour in the State Department career was at the former U.S. Consulate General in Stuttgart, Germany. Before beginning his professional career, Mr. Logsdon had the opportunity to work as a summer intern in Leverkusen and was an exchange student in Buxtehude. He speaks Russian, Ukrainian, Thai, and German and holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from the University of Notre Dame.