Deterring Cybertrespass and Securing Cyberspace: Lessons from United States Border Control Strategies

  • December 01, 2016
  • Dr Mary Manjikian



Perhaps the best starting point for those looking to “borrow” a deterrent strategy for cyberspace from other fields is not the example of nuclear deterrence but instead the example of United States-Mexican border security. The nuclear deterrent analogy is not the best fit for understanding cyber-deterrence—due to the ways in which rewards and payoffs for would-be attackers in cyberspace are different from those in the nuclear analogy—among other factors. The emphasis here is not on deterrent effects provided by specific weapons but rather on the ways in which human actors understand deterrence and risk in making an attempt to violate a border, and the ways in which security architects can manipulate how would-be aggressors think about these border incursions. This Letort Paper thus borrows from the criminology literature rather than the military-security literature in laying out how individuals may be deterred from committing crimes in real space and in cyberspace through manipulating rewards and punishments. Lessons from attempts at deterring illegal immigration along America’s borders are then presented, with lessons derived from those situations, which are helpful in understanding how to deter incursions in cyberspace.