Yesterday I posted Latest PhD Thesis Title and Abstract. One of my colleagues Ben Buchanan subsequently contacted me via Twitter and we exchanged a few messages. He prompted me to think about the title.
Later I ruminated on the title of a recent book by my advisor, Dr. Thomas Rid. He wrote Cyber War Will Not Take Place. One of the best parts of the book is the title. In six words you get his argument as succinctly as possible. (It could be five words if you pushed “cyber” and “war” together, but the thought alone makes me cringe, in the age of cyber-everything.)
I wondered if I could transform my latest attempt at a thesis title into something that captured my argument in a succinct form.
I thought about the obsession of the majority of the information security community on the tool and tactics level of war. Too many technicians think about security as a single-exchange contest between an attacker and a defender, like a duel.
That reminded me of a problem I have with Carl von Clausewitz’s definition of war.
We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of war used by publicists. We shall keep to the element of the thing itself, to a duel. War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale.
Clausewitz continues by mentioning “the countless number of duels which make up a war,” and then makes his famous statement that “War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” However, I’ve never liked the tactically-minded idea that war is a “duel.”
This concept, plus the goal to deliver a compact argument, inspired me to revise my thesis title and subtitle to the following:
Campaigns, Not Duels: The Operational Art of Cyber Intrusions
In the first three words I deliver my argument, and in the subtitle I provide context by including my key perspective (“operational art”), environment (“cyber,” yes, a little part of me is dying, but it’s a keyword), and “intrusions.”
When I publish the thesis as a book in 2018, I hope to use the same words in the book title.