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Aspen Digital

The Cyber Defense Assistance Imperative

Lessons from Ukraine

An illustration of a magnifying glass with a view of Ukraine from space. The country is colored in blue and yellow to resemble its flag.
February 16, 2023

Aspen Digital

Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a watershed moment, and unique in that a major nation-state had engaged in coordinated, convergent digital and physical attacks in an effort to conquer a neighboring country. Leaders will draw lessons from this conflict for years, but one is already clear: the ability to deliver cyber defense assistance must be a key national security capability. 

Informed by the ongoing work of a variety of organizations providing operational cyber support to Ukrainian institutions through the Cyber Defense Assistance Collaborative, this paper seeks to define cyber defense assistance, outline its primary component parts, and identify key lessons learned that can help inform how such assistance can be provided in future geopolitical conflicts. It also makes the case that an effective national security toolkit requires the ability to deliver cyber defense assistance to allies.

The Aspen US Cybersecurity Group is the nation’s leading cross-sector, public-private cybersecurity forum comprising former government officials, Capitol Hill leaders, industry executives, security practitioners, and respected voices from civil society. It aims to translate pressing cybersecurity conversations into action.

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