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Alexander Klimburg

Fellow and Senior Advisor, Austrian Institute for International Affairs


Alexander Klimburg is a Fellow and Senior Advisor at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs. Since joining the Institute in October 2006, Mr. Klimburg has acted as an advisor to a number of governments and international organizations on a number of issues within cybersecurity, Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP), and EU Common and Foreign Security Policy (CFSP).  Mr. Klimburg has partaken in international and intergovernmental discussions, has acted as an advisor to the Austrian delegation at the OSCE, and has been a member of various national and EU-level policy and working groups.   He is the principle author of  a 2011 European Parliament study entitled Cyberpower and Cybersecurity and regularly advises on cybersecurity legislation.

Within cybersecurity, Mr Klimburg’s work has primarily been in the area of Information Security, Critical (Information) Infrastructure Protection, and researching the synthesis of  different types of  cybersecurity issues in  exercising “cyberpower”.  Mr Klimburg is particularly interested in the roles that non-state actors have within cybersecurity, and how these roles can contribute to a whole-of-nation “Integrated National Capability” within cyberpower.

Mr Klimburg is the author of a number of advisory papers and is regularly consulted by national and international media. Previous to joining the institute, Mr Klimburg worked on ICT strategy issues in corporate finance and IT/strategy consulting in Europe and Asia, and holds degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Whole of Nation Cyberpower

How can nations project power in cyberspace? In light of the increasing dependency of modern society on all aspects of cyberspace, and the equally increasing breadth and scope of cyber attacks, this question is far from being merely academic. While it might seem obvious that an event as momentous as the advent of the new “cyber domain”[i] would demand new forms of policymaking, many Western liberal democracies have struggled to make the evolutionary leap so clearly required. This is particularly unfortunate not only because, superficially at least, countries such as Russia and China have seemed to aggressively harness cyberspace for national power purposes.  The paradox is that many Western governments are already dealing with the core challenges associated with cyber power – namely, how actors should work together – but it a seemingly completely unrelated field: so called “fragile states” policies. Unfortunately, the lessons learned are not being communicated, and cyber policy makers often seem to be stuck trying to reinvent the wheel.  

It is remarkable that the potentially most important dimension of cyberpower – namely the power of the non-state actors – is strongest within countries, where the state is paramount, for instance, within Russia and China.  In liberal democracies, where non-state actors play a decisive role in all aspects of cyberspace, their importance for nation-state cyberpower is only marginally understood.  This failing is even more remarkable when one considers that many of the challenges that liberal democratic policy makers face with “cyberpower”, including cooperation with non-state actors, are not unique to cyber.