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Title: Grassroots Theory: Offering A New, Theoretical Approach to US Cyber Doctrine
Authors: Caputo, Jackson
Advisors: Kapstein, Ethan
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: Current scholarship on cybersecurity uses existing defense models – such as the deterrence model and public-private partnership model – as a framework to explain motivations for US cyber defense action. While many cyber defense researchers agree that these defense models fail to holistically drive US cyber defense action, few researchers explore a more comprehensive model to explain US cyber defense patterns. What is the framework driving the US cyber doctrine? What models or theories could holistically explain this framework? From primary research, a potential new theory—the grassroots theory—has emerged. This theory proposes that due to the lack of a governmental, top-down, comprehensive policy surrounding cyber defense, current cyber defense actions prioritize immediate threats and prompt results without sufficiently considering long-term effects. To test the effectiveness of this theory as a driver for US cyber defense actions, this thesis analyzes the interactions between the US cyber defense doctrine and two prominent existing defense models: the deterrence model and public private partnership model. First, I analyze how each theoretical model is reflected in the current cyber defense doctrine. Second, I examine the unintended long-term implications of using each model. Through compiling the advantages, implications, and consequences of these two defense models in the cyber defense domain, this thesis qualitatively assesses the extent to which grassroots theory serves as the primary motivating factor in shaping U.S. cyber defense doctrine. This thesis finds that the novel grassroots model explains the drivers of the cyber defense doctrine in a more holistic manner than the defense models researchers currently use.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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