Mapping The Cybersecurity Institutional Landscape

Abstract: Purpose There is growing contestation between states and private actors over cybersecurity responsibilities, and its governance is ever more susceptible to nationalization. The authors believe these developments are based on an incomplete picture of how cybersecurity is actually governed in practice and theory. Given this disconnect, this paper aims to attempt to provide a cohesive understanding of the cybersecurity institutional landscape. Design/methodology/approach Drawing from institutional economics and using extensive desk research, the authors develop a conceptual model and broadly sketch the activities and contributions of market, networked and hierarchical governance structures and analyze how they interact to produce and govern cybersecurity. Findings Analysis shows a robust market and networked governance structures and a more limited role for hierarchical structures. Ex ante efforts to produce cybersecurity using purely hierarchical governance structures, even buttressed with support from networked governance structures, struggle without market demand like in the case of secure internet identifiers. To the contrary, ex post efforts like botnet mitigation, route monitoring and other activities involving information sharing seem to work under a variety of combinations of governance structures. Originality/value The authors’ conceptual framework and observations offer a useful starting point for unpacking how cybersecurity is produced and governed; ultimately, we need to understand if and how these governance structure arrangements actually impact variation in observed levels of cybersecurity.

Keywords: Institutions, Cybersecurity, Governance structures, Internet governance

Suggested citation: Kuerbis, B., & Badiei, F. (2017). Mapping the cybersecurity institutional landscape. Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, 19(6), 466–492.