AN ANTIFRAGILE APPROACH TO PREPARING FOR CYBER CONFLICT
AIR WAR COLLEGE MAXWELL AFB United States
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Defense of any system against all highly improbable, but significant events, what are sometimes referred to as Black Swan events, is not possible. These events are, by their very nature unpredictable and uncertain, which is why they so dominate our thinking, and our culture. The work of Nassim Taleb regarding these highly improbable events and his proposed approach of antifragility may have utility in studying what the USAF should do in order to be prepared for the future in cyber operations. This approach emphasizes the futility of trying to predict whenwhere and how these highly improbable but significant events will occur and of preparing to defend against those scenarios. This leads to a barbell strategy based on an understanding of the probability and consequence of both positive and negative Black Swan events, which maximizes optionality while ensuring against systemic failure.Three essential elements emerge from this as critical to building antifragility into our national cyber capabilities. The first is the need to truly understand our minimum required capabilities, to acknowledge what ruin would really look like so that it can be avoided at the lowest possible cost. Second, how can optimal learning be built into the system, allowing the inevitable shocks of any magnitude to make the system stronger. Finaly, what construct, organization or approach can efficiently and effectively incentivize the high-riskhigh-payoff end of the spectrum.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics