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Office of News & Public Affairs

Boston College Expert: International Security

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Peter Krause

Peter Krause
Assistant Professor of Political Science
office: 617.552.0759
cell: 617-595-8690
Faculty website

“The cyberattack on Sony and ‘The Interview’ does mark a small watershed in that it is one of the first cases of successful cyber coercion, whereby a cyberattack effectively made a target alter its behavior, in this case by stopping the release of a controversial film. On the other hand, this has little bearing on overblown suggestions about a ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’ that could seriously threaten the U.S. government. This case is somewhat unique in that it did not target a government, but rather a private corporation.

Furthermore, the action the attackers wanted to stop was the release of a low budget film, not, say, the removal of US forces from the Middle East.

Finally, the cyberattack on Sony was effective, and it was backed by the threat of a physical terrorist attack on theaters. This combination of a weaker, non-government target focused on the financial bottom line, a low level objective, an effective hack to demonstrate credibility, and the possibility of violence to come made for an effective cyberattack.

To the extent future attackers can replicate this approach, they may succeed, but it is worth noting that most scenarios concerning cyberattacks involve government targets and far more difficult objectives, and they are not carried out by aggressive dictatorships armed with nuclear weapons. In any case, those who launch cyberattacks are themselves generally quite vulnerable to them, so we will see how the U.S. responds.”


Krause's research and writing focuses on international security, Middle East politics, non-state violence, and national movements. Krause has conducted extensive fieldwork throughout the Middle East over the past five years and has published articles on the effectiveness of non-state violence, U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war, the politics of division within the Palestinian national movement, the war of ideas in the Middle East, and a reassessment of U.S. operations at Tora Bora in 2001.



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Sean Hennessey
Associate Director
Office of News and Public Affairs
Boston College

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