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The Future of Cyber Conflict: The Market for Global Cyber Surveillance Capabilities

In response to the Tweet string above,  OODA CEO Matt Devost added (via his Global Frequency weekly blast):  “L3 looks to buy NSO Group.  We should not allow a company like NSO, which has sold offensive cyber capabilities to regimes using them in non-humanitarian ways and against U.S. interests and is also under current sanctions to profit from this activity.  There are plenty of U.S. entities that can provide these capabilities without the baggage.”  For more context on the NSO Group, see our recent update:  The NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware: A Global Update.

In the shadow of this discouraging market activity,  we return to a research report released by The Atlantic Council in November of last year entitled “Surveillance Technology at the Fair: Proliferation of Cyber Capabilities in International Arms Markets”  as part of their Cyber Statecraft Initiative.  In the report, the Council researchers place the availability of cyber capabilities in the context of the mature marketplace represented by annual international arms markets (which is a really creative framework for research on the growth of cyber-surveillance capabilities in the private sector).

The researchers then do an analysis of the cyber-surveillance technology market as an adjacent market – and discern growth metrics, scope the size of the market, etc.  Following is an analysis of the major findings of the report.  The MIT Technology Review in their coverage of the report captured the overall sentiment of the researchers this way:  “The increasing overlap between the world’s arms trade and the secretive surveillance industry risks damaging US national security and will create the potential for even more abuse unless more accountability is introduced, according to a new study.”  (1)

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Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira is research director at OODA. He is a foresight strategist, creative technologist, and an information communication technology (ICT) and digital media researcher with 20+ years of experience directing public/private partnerships and strategic innovation initiatives.