The Cyber Operations Series: Cyber Conflict as an Intelligence Contest

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locationOnline | 123 Pall Mall

Online Attendance


In-person Attendance


Join RUSI for a discussion with leading academics Robert Chesney and Max Smeets on why reframing cyber conflict as an intelligence contest allows us to better understand the realities of inter-state cyber operations and develop policies that reflect states’ existing experiences in this field.


The idea of ‘cyber war’ has played a dominant role in both academic and popular discourse concerning the nature of statecraft in the cyber domain. However, overemphasising cyberspace as a ‘warfighting’ domain where conflict is measured against expectations of death and destruction may distort rather than help clarify the nature of cyber competition and conflict. Are cyber activities perhaps more like an intelligence contest, where both states and non-state actors grapple for information advantage below the threshold of war?

In their new edited volume Deter, Disrupt, or Deceive, Robert Chesney and Max Smeets convene an array of authors to explore this debate.

The discussion will be moderated by Louise Marie Hurel, RUSI Research Fellow.

Speakers' biographies

Max Smeets is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich; Director of the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative, and RUSI Associate Fellow

Robert Chesney is the Dean of the University of Texas School of Law, where he also holds the James A Baker III Chair in the Rule of Law and World Affairs. He is also a co-founder of and contributor to the blog Lawfare and co-host of the National Security Law Podcast.

Conrad Prince CB is a Distinguished Fellow and RUSI’s senior adviser on cyber security, offensive cyber, and related intelligence and security issues. He was formerly the Director General for Operations and deputy head of the UK Government’s signals intelligence and cyber security agency, GCHQ.

How to attend

To attend this event online, you must register by 7 June 2023 by completing the booking form on this page. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

In-person places are very limited, but if you would like to attend the event in person, please email

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