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The proliferation of cyber weapons and the privatization of cyber capabilities can compromise national security. Cyber mercenaries are an emerging threat that require joint cooperation between nation-states to adequately defend against. This paper examines two cyber mercenary groups that show the array of potential risks that they pose, presents an overview for why nation-states might hire cyber mercenaries, and expands an existing framework for how nation-states might influence the actors that employ them. Actors now have more tools to engage each other anonymously, indirectly, and across vast distances. Nation-states that do not have the means to sustain large military forces can turn to cyber mercenaries to amplify their power. The lack of codified regulation and governing institutions that address cyber incidents results in a degree of ambiguity for victims of a cyber attack and for former intelligence personnel with cyber-offensive capabilities transitioning back into the private sector. Addressing these issues will be necessary as the world continues to rely more on the internet for their everyday services.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Cyber Mercenaries

  • Journal title
    • International Social Science Review

  • Volume
    • 96

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      José de Arimatéia da Cruz, PhD/MPH is a Professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics at Georgia Southern University, Savannah, GA. He is also a Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA and a Research Fellow of the Brazil Research Unit at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC. Stephanie Pedron is a Political Science graduate student at Georgia Southern University.