Shaping Cybersecurity Strategy: China, Iran and Russia in a Comparative Perspective
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Cyberspace has emerged as a new domain for strategic competition among states. How do China, Russia and Iran respond to cyber-threats differently? And why? Through detailed comparative case studies, this dissertation introduces a new cyber-threat assessment model based on neoclassical realism approach in an attempt to explain states’ divergent outcomes in threat assessment. In particular, this model identifies how and why states adopt different strategies in response to the growing challenges in the cyber domain. On the international level, while China seeks to rewrite cyber norms and introduce an alternative cyber governance model to replace the current Western-led model, Iran works to export its revolutionary values and to bring about an Islamic awakening and develop a value system competitive with Western morality, and Russia seeks to control Eurasia and dismantle Western democratic systems. Domestically, all three countries retain authoritarian structure. This study makes contributions to broader literature on cybersecurity in two respects: first, this study clarifies concepts and ideas related to cybersecurity and threat assessment; second, this study introduces a cyber-threat assessment model – the Multi-tiered Cyber-threat Model (MCTM) – uniquely based on a neoclassical realist approach to the state and foreign policy.