from Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

CFR Tracker Documents Rise in States Sponsoring Cyberattacks

November 1, 2017

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The number of countries sponsoring cyber operations is rising, reveals a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Cyber Operations Tracker that catalogs nearly two hundred state-sponsored cyber incidents known to the public since 2005.

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CyberOperations Tracker

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In addition to Russia, China, North Korea, and the United States, the sixteen countries suspected of engaging in cyber operations include newcomers such as Vietnam, Kazakhstan, and Mexico. The incidents include distributed denial of service (paralyzing a computer network by flooding it with data), espionage, defacement, data destruction, sabotage, and doxing (publishing private or identifying information). The tracker—produced by CFR's Digital and Cyberspace Policy program—notes that in response to growing insecurity, states have begun using sanctions and criminal charges to punish alleged perpetrators and state sponsors.

"Information about state-sponsored cyber incidents has been challenging to access. Incidents are either not reported or they are reported inconsistently across sources," notes Adam Segal, the Ira A. Lipman chair in emerging technologies and national security and director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy program. "By collecting and publishing this data publicly, we hope not only that policymakers can get a more complete picture of cyber threats but also that researchers can share information and better understand state activity online."

The Cyber Operations Tracker offers

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  • a searchable database of nearly two hundred state-sponsored cyber-incidents known to the public;
  • a timeline listing incidents from 2005 to the present;
  • a downloadable dataset for deeper investigation;
  • a submission tool for reporting new incidents;
  • profiles of more than fifty threat actors;
  • explanations of the six most common types of cyber operations; and
  • an analysis of important trends.

The tracker is regularly updated by CFR’s Digital and Cyberspace Policy program. View the tracker at Follow Segal on Twitter @adschina and the Digital and Cyberspace Policy program’s updates on the Net Politics blog. To learn more or to request an interview, please contact the Communications team at or 212.434.9888.

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CFR’s Digital and Cyberspace Policy program addresses one of the most challenging issues facing the country in the twenty-first century: keeping the global internet open, secure, and resilient in the face of unprecedented threats.

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