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Kostyuk explores potential for North Korea to use cyberattacks as force multiplier

December 4, 2017

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post's "Monkey Cage," Would cyberattacks be likely in a U.S.- North Korea conflict? Here's what we know, Ford School doctoral candidate Nadiya Kostyuk and U-M professor Yuri Zhukov (political science) explore the likelihood that North Korea would successfully use cyberattacks as a force multiplier in the event of a conflict with the United States.

Kostyuk is a joint-PhD student at the Ford School (public policy and political science) and a fellow at the Cyber Security Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. She and Zhukov say North Korea has "rapidly expanding cyber-capabilities," including 3,000 to 6,000 hackers and 10 to 20 percent of its military budget allocated toward online operations.

However, Kostyuk and Zhukov’s research on wartime cyber-campaigns in Ukraine and Syria, forthcoming in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, suggests that due to a lack of coordination, cyberattacks tend not to impact the timing or intensity of subsequent military operations. "Though it may appear as if North Korea has the cyber-upper hand," they write, "the regime is unlikely to successfully employ cyberattacks in tandem with conventional military operations."

--Olivia Lewis (MPP '18)