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Proxy Actors in the Cyber Domain: Implications for State Strategy

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States are increasingly compelled to work with non-state 'proxy' actors in the cyber domain. Within this nascent security domain, states have important strategic decisions to make, being able to use and interact with proxies in a diverse range of ways. This has led to a complex environment where the absence of doctrine has led to uncertainty going forward. This paper provides a taxonomy on the phenomenon of states using proxy actors in the cyber domain, outlining the proxy actors available to a state, the reasons proxy actors appeal, and the nature of state-proxy relations. It is argued that proxies are an increasingly important component of state strategy in the cyber domain. However, whilst proxy actors can bolster the capabilities of a state, they can also undermine a state's autonomy and security. States must therefore proceed with caution in working with a crucial, albeit risky, resource.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2017

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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