A framework for understanding hack-and-leak operations
This presentation outlines a framework for understanding hack-and-leak operations, arguing that we must rethink the effects of divulging - and fabricating - secret information in an era of ubiquitous digital technologies and severe political crises. It suggests that hack-and-leak operations sit between two paradigms of cybersecurity. The first paradigm focuses on intrusion (unauthorized access to networks), while the second concentrates on influence (the use of digital technologies to illegitimately shape public debate). Analyses generally tackle one of these two aspects: cybersecurity specialists focus on intrusion, setting aside the complexities of the digital public sphere, while media scholars do the opposite, closely analyzing flows of leaked information without considering how it was obtained. This presentation instead argues for conceptualizing hack-and-leak operations as a distinct category of incident combining these two paradigms, with specific implications for cyber policy.
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James Shires is a research fellow with the Cyber Security Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. His research examines cybersecurity in the Middle East, focusing on the interaction between threats to individuals, states and organizations, new regional dynamics, and the development of cybersecurity expertise. He holds a DPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford, an MSc from Birkbeck College, London, and a BA from the University of Cambridge. He has won awards for cybersecurity papers from the Hague Program on Cyber Norms, the German Marshall Fund and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He has written policy papers on cybersecurity for Oxford Analytica, LSE and War on the Rocks