Date of Award

Spring 2020


Political Science

First Advisor

Alison Russell


Adversaries launch cyberattacks or cyber-exploits with contrasting intentions and desired outcomes. A cyberattack is a malicious attempt by a state, third party, or individual to disrupt a computer’s network; whereas, a cyber-exploit is an action that uncovers and steals “confidential” information from a computer’s data. 1 Within this research paper, the main adversary of such cyberattacks and/or exploits will be the nation-state. The victims of these cyberattacks will range from multinational corporations, such as Sony, to nuclear programs in Iran. This essay will focus on four motivations behind such cyberattacks: (1) private sector hacking (the theft of intellectual property) (2) political gains (3) infrastructure destruction (4) military power. This paper will examine the following cyberattacks: Sony Pictures Hack, Equifax, meddling of the 2016 Presidential Election, OPM Hack, 2015 Ukraine Power Grid Attack, Stuxnet, and Russo-Georgian Cyberattacks. The cyberattacks will serve as a basis to draft a comprehensive United States Foreign Policy that addresses each of the four incentives within a broader cybersecurity strategy. This paper will first explain the diversity of such attacks. Following the analysis, the paper will seek to answer this pressing question: What should the implementation of United States Foreign Policy look like according to contrasting, yet substantial cyberattacks in the past?