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Rethinking cyber espionage after the SolarWinds hack
Speakers: Russell Buchan (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Sheffield), Ciaran Martin (Oxford University & former CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, GCHQ), Ellen Nakashima (National Security reporter for The Washington Post) & Ronald Prins (Co-Founder Hunt & Hackett, formerly founder & director of Fox-IT & former member of the Dutch review committee on the intelligence and security services).

SolarWinds, and also the recent Microsoft Exchange hack, have again rekindled the debate about the nature of such operations and how to respond to them. Many analysts say they are plain espionage operations – and therefore a normal, if undesirable, part of international relations – but many others are wondering whether operations such as these push beyond the boundaries of what is considered ‘normal espionage’. This is also reflected in the debate about of and how the US government should react to these operations. Moreover, the debate about what is cyber espionage and how it should be seen and reacted to is wider than just the large cyber superpowers, like the US, that often give as good as they get. How do other states view these operations? How do companies, whose networks suffer the collateral damages, see these operations?

The panel will explore the significance of the SolarWinds hack for our understanding of cyber espionage, make sense of different state responses in light of their broader strategic relevance, and asses their implications for the normative behaviour in cyberspace.

This panel is hosted by The Hague Program for Cyber Norms. For more information about this research program, please visit our website:

Apr 15, 2021 04:00 PM in Amsterdam

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