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Adam Segal

Ira A. Lipman Chair in Emerging Technologies and National Security and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

Expertise

Technology and development in China and India; East Asian security; Chinese domestic and foreign policy; cyberconflict, cybersecurity

Bio

Adam Segal is the Ira A. Lipman chair in emerging technologies and national security and director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An expert on security issues, technology development, and Chinese domestic and foreign policy, Segal was the project director for the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet. His book The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age (PublicAffairs, 2016) describes the increasingly contentious geopolitics of cyberspace. His work has appeared in the Financial TimesThe EconomistForeign PolicyThe Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs, among others. He currently writes for the blog, “Net Politics.”

Before coming to CFR, Segal was an arms control analyst for the China Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. There, he wrote about missile defense, nuclear weapons, and Asian security issues. He has been a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and Tsinghua University in Beijing. He has taught at Vassar College and Columbia University. Segal is the author of Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge (W.W. Norton, 2011) and Digital Dragon: High-Technology Enterprises in China (Cornell University Press, 2003), as well as several articles and book chapters on Chinese technology policy.

Segal has a BA and PhD in government from Cornell University, and an MA in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

The Geopolitics of Cyberspace

During the Cold War, many of the most intense ideological and political struggles revolved around the organization of economic systems. Even among Western allies, there were differences over the state's role in the market, the distribution of benefits between labor and capital, and the degree of openness to international trade. The competition over economic systems of course continues but is now joined by a new conflict over the organization and ownership of data and information—how states create and regulate new information, defend it, and deploy it as a weapon against their adversaries. In my forthcoming book, The Geopolitics of Cyberspace, I describe this new conflict, explain how rising cyber power states are developing, and suggest a set of policies that improve the United States' ability to advance its interests in and through cyberspace. I direct CFR's Program on Digital and Cyberspace Policy, oversee a roundtable on cybersecurity,and have written about cyber threats to the oil and gas industry. I blog at Net Politics and was the projector director of a CFR Independent Task Force on U.S. policy toward cyberspace.

Cyberspace and U.S.-China Relations

Both the United States and China have identified cyberspace as critical to their economic and national security, and have adopted a number of domestic and international strategies in order to shape the Internet. At the same time, each country is likely to see the other as an important, if not the main, impediment to the pursuit of its interests in cyberspace. Washington and Beijing differ on the international governance of cyberspace, the definition and legitimacy of espionage, and the balance between the values of national sovereignty and the free flow of information. U.S. and Chinese technology companies battle over customers, international standards, and access to markets, the subject of my last book, Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge.Yet, the two sides have a shared interest in preventing third party attacks on critical infrastructure and in developing confidence building measures in the areas of cyber conflict. In my blog posts at Asia Unbound and Forbes,writings in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Guardian, and other media outlets, and by hosting a roundtable series, I explore how the two sides can stem the growing distrust and suggest workable policies.

Featured Publications

Task Force Report No. 70

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet

The CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet, finds that as more people and services become interconnected and dependent on the Internet, societies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To support security, innovation, growth, and the free flow of information, the Task Force recommends that the United States and its partners work to build a cyber alliance, make the free flow of information a part of all future trade agreements, and articulate an inclusive and robust vision of Internet governance.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Internet Policy

All Publications

Article

Can the United States and China De-conflict in Cyberspace?

Authors: Adam Segal and Tang Lan
War on the Rocks

In spite of significant differences in views, Beijing and Washington appear committed to not letting cyber issues derail the U.S.-China relationship or interfere with cooperation on other high-profile issues. Among the wide range of issues raised at their recent meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping reiterated their commitment to last September’s breakthrough cybersecurity agreement.

See more in China; United States; Cybersecurity

Article

Reducing and Managing U.S.-China Conflict in Cyberspace

Authors: Adam Segal and Tang Lan
The National Bureau of Asian Research

While there continue to be significant differences between the perspectives of the U.S. and Chinese governments on issues in cyberspace, recent progress to overcome these challenges suggests a path forward, writes Adam Segal. Substantive cooperation on cybersecurity, cybercrime, and Internet governance can help both countries avoid a conflict over cyberspace.

See more in United States; China; Cybersecurity

Op-Ed

How to Break the Deadlock Over Data Encryption

Authors: Adam Segal and Alexandre Grigsby
Washington Post

See more in United States; Cybersecurity

Teaching Note

The Hacked World Order

Author: Adam Segal

In The Hacked World Order, Adam Segal shows how governments use the web to wage war, spy on, coerce, and damage each other. While scholars, activists, and technologists initially heralded the Internet as a space outside of state control, governments have been quick to step into this new domain—both to control activity that happens within it and to adopt it as a new tool of state power.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Technology and Foreign Policy

Op-Ed

Why China Hacks the World

Author: Adam Segal
The Christian Science Monitor

In this excerpt from his new book, The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age, Adam Segal explains the rise of Chinese hacking, its rationale, and what China hopes to gain by it.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Defense and Security

Book

The Hacked World Order

Author: Adam Segal

Beginning with the Stuxnet virus launched by the United States at an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010 and continuing through to the most recent Sony hacking scandal, A Hacked World Order exposes how the Internet has ushered in a new era of geopolitical maneuvering and reveals the tremendous and terrifying implications for our economic livelihood, security, and personal identity.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Technology and Foreign Policy

Other Report

Holding the Multistakeholder Line at the ITU

Author: Adam Segal

Adam Segal explains the U.S. approach at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, South Korea, where the United States is looking to defend its approach to Internet governance. Washington and its allies favor the "multistakeholder" model: a bottom-up policy process that includes organizations representing technical experts, governments, businesses, civil society, and individual users.

See more in Global; Internet Policy; International Organizations and Alliances

Ask CFR Experts

Is the threat of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" as potent as some have suggested?

Asked by James Bingham, from King's College, London

The phrase "cyber Pearl Harbor" received attention when it by former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta in a speech about U.S. vulnerability to cyberwarfare threats. It is best understood as an effort to shape the domestic political debate and as a description of a potential future scenario, rather than as an accurate description of the cybersecurity threat.

Read full answer

See more in Cybersecurity; United States

Task Force Report No. 70

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet

The CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet, finds that as more people and services become interconnected and dependent on the Internet, societies are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To support security, innovation, growth, and the free flow of information, the Task Force recommends that the United States and its partners work to build a cyber alliance, make the free flow of information a part of all future trade agreements, and articulate an inclusive and robust vision of Internet governance.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Internet Policy

Op-Ed

Shaming Chinese Hackers Won't Work Because Cyber Espionage is Here to Stay

Author: Adam Segal
The Guardian

In preparation for President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama's meeting in California on June 7-9, Adam Segal writes, "The presidents won't come to any agreements next week, but over the course of the two days, they should try and dispel the growing mistrust by explaining their national interests and intentions in cyberspace."

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; China

Article

The People's Republic of Hacking

Author: Adam Segal
Foreign Policy

Adam Segal says the recent Chinese cyberattacks on Bloomberg and the New York Times highlights both the willingness of Beijing to shape the narrative about China, as well as the vulnerability the top leadership feels about how they are portrayed.

See more in Cybersecurity; China

Recent Activity from Net Politics

CFR Events

Meeting ⁄ Washington

Privacy and Security in the Digital Age

Speakers Michael Chertoff

Executive Chairman and Cofounder, Chertoff Group; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

, Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director, Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations

, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York District County


Presider L. Gordon Crovitz

Partner, NextNews Ventures; "Information Age" Columnist, Wall Street Journal

May 11, 2016 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.


6:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Dinner Reception
6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Meeting

May 11, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen Watch

Meeting ⁄ New York

NY CFR Fellows’ Book Launch Series Guest Event: The Hacked World Order-How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age

Speaker Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

March 16, 2016 5:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m.


5:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception
6:00 p.m.–6:45 p.m. Meeting
6:45 p.m.–7:15 p.m. Reception and Book Signing
*Please note special timing*

March 16, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen Watch

Meeting ⁄ Washington

DC CFR Fellows’ Book Launch Series Guest Event: The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age

Speaker Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations

February 24, 2016 5:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m.


5:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception
6:00 p.m.–6:45 p.m. Meeting
6:45 p.m.–7:15 p.m. Reception and Book Signing
*Please note special timing*

February 24, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

Read Watch

Meeting ⁄ New York

HBO What to Do About Cyberattacks

Speakers Eli Dourado

Research Fellow and Director of the Technology Policy Program, Mercatus Center, George Mason University

, General Michael V. Hayden

Principal, Chertoff Group; Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency (2006-2009); Former Director, National Security Agency (1999-2005)

, Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Frances Fragos Townsend

Executive Vice President of Worldwide Government, Legal and Business Affairs, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.

October 6, 2015 12:15 p.m.-2:00 p.m.


12:15 p.m.12:45p.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m.2:00 p.m. Meeting
*Please note special timing*

October 6, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen Watch

Meeting ⁄ Washington

Session III: Busan: What Happened and What Comes Next?

Speakers Christopher Painter

Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, U.S. Department of State 

, Daniel Sepulveda

Deputy Assistant Secretary and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State 

, Lawrence Strickling

Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, U.S. Department of Commerce 


Presider Nuala O’Connor

President and Chief Executive Officer, Center for Democracy & Technology 


Closing Speaker Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Director, Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program, David Rockefeller Studies Program, Council on Foreign Relations

November 20, 2014 11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. - Lunch and closing remarks, 12:45-1:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Meeting ⁄ Washington

The Future of Internet Governance

Speakers Lynn St. Amour

President and CEO, Internet Matters; Former President and CEO, Internet Society

, Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies and Project Director, CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force, Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet, Council on Foreign Relations

, Daniel Sepulveda

Deputy Assistant Secretary and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State


Presider Catherine Lotrionte

Associate Director, Institute for International Law & Politics, Georgetown University

May 15, 2014 12:00–12:30 p.m. - Registration and Reception
12:30–1:30 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Meeting ⁄ Washington

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet: Report of the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age

Speakers John D. NegroponteVice Chairman, McLarty Associates; Former Deputy Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence; Task Force Co-Chair, Samuel J. PalmisanoFormer Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation; Task Force Co-Chair, Adam SegalMaurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Task Force Project Director
Presider Vivian SchillerChief Digital Officer, NBC News
June 10, 2013 12:00–12:30 p.m. - Lunch Reception
12:30–1:30 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Meeting ⁄ New York

Defending an Open, Global, Secure, and Resilient Internet: Report of the CFR-Sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age

Panelists John D. NegroponteVice Chairman, McLarty Associates; Former Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State; Former Director of National Intelligence; Task Force Chair, Samuel J. PalmisanoFormer Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation; Task Force Chair, Adam SegalMaurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Task Force Director
Presider Jacob M. WeisbergChairman, The Slate Group
June 6, 2013 1:00–1:30 p.m. - Lunch
1:30–2:30 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Meeting

China, Cybersecurity, and Crisis Stability

Speaker Adam Segal

Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

April 25, 2013 12:00–1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Meeting

The Business Impact of a Changing Cyber Landscape

Speaker Edward AmorosoSenior Vice President and Chief Security Officer, AT&T Services, Inc.
Presider Adam SegalIra A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and National Security Studies Council on Foreign Relations
June 15, 2011 6:30–7:00 p.m. - Dinner Reception
7:00–8:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

Watch

Meeting

China 2025: Panel Two: China Goes Global

Panelists Evan A. FeigenbaumSenior Fellow for East, Central, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations, Adam SegalMaurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, David H. ShinnAdjunct Professor, George Washington University
Moderator Sheila A. SmithSenior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
October 19, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Meeting ⁄ New York

Koppel on Discovery: The People's Republic of Capitalism

Speakers Ted KoppelManaging Editor, Discovery Channel, Adam SegalMaurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider David E. SangerChief Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
June 26, 2008 6:30–7:30 p.m. - Cocktail Buffet Reception
7:30–8:15 p.m. - Screening
8:15–9:00 p.m. - Discussion

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Press/Panels

Video Interview

Charlie Rose: DNC Cyber-Attack

Adam Segal, Ira A. Lipman Chair in Emerging Technologies and National Security at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the hack of the Democratic National Committee with Charlie Rose.

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Radio Interview

The New Global Battleground: Cyberspace

Welcome to the new global battleground: cyberspace. So says the Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, Adam Segal. His new book The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age, looks at how anyone with the internet, some malware, and an email address can wage war.

Listen

Article

Waging War in Zeros and Ones

In the Wall Street Journal, Gary Schmitt reviews The Hacked World Order by Adam Segal.

Panel

Cybersecurity from China’s Perspective

Adam Segal, director of the Council on Foreign Relations' Digital and Cyberspace Policy program, speaks on a Christian Science Monitor panel on the Chinese approach to cybersecurity.

Watch

Radio Interview

Hackers Access Information of 4 Million Government Employees

Speaking with KCRW's "To the Point," Council on Foreign Relations expert on China and cybersecurity Adam Segal discusses the breach of the Office of Personnel Management's records, possible sources of the attack, and how the U.S. can respond.

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Video Interview

China Bashes US Allegations of Cyber-attacks

Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program Adam Segal discusses U.S. claims that China is responsible for the cyber-attack against U.S. federal workers.

Watch

Radio Interview

The Bob Rivers Show

Adam Segal discusses Chinese cyber economic espionage on the Bob Rivers Show.

Listen

Video Interview

Push for Cyber Diplomacy

Adam Segal appears on FOX Business news to discuss the push for cyber diplomacy in President Barack Obama's meeting with Xi Jinping in California.

Watch

Panel

Arms Race vs. Relay Race: What Does Innovation Hold for China?

Adam Segal discusses doubts about China's ability to ever become an innovation superpower. Will China succeed at fostering creative incubators on par with Silicon Valley and America’s great research universities? And, contrary to the zero-sum nature of political rhetoric, should Americans root for China’s innovators?

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