How Russia Uses Cyber Proxies to Respond to Accusations of Cyber Attacks | 2022 | Events

How Russia Uses Cyber Proxies to Respond to Accusations of Cyber Attacks
William Akoto
William Akoto
Fordham University
October 19, 2022


Governments accused of state-sponsored cyber attacks face a vexing dilemma. They can admit the attack and face painful retaliatory consequences or deny involvement and risk diminishing their cyber capabilities. As yet we know very little about how accused states handle this dilemma. In this paper, I examine how Russia - one of the most frequently accused countries - addresses this dilemma.  I draw on newly available data from Twitter and leverage topic modeling, semantic, cluster and rhetorical analyses to reveal a sophisticated and highly nuanced effort by Russian proxies to refute allegations of cyber interference. The results have important implications for academic and policy debates about how best to combat state-sponsored cyber attacks and the appropriate role of social media platforms in countering online misinformation and disinformation.


Professor Akoto’s research examines the political economy dynamics of international trade, coup d’états and cyber conflict. His work has appeared in various leading journals and edited volumes. Prior to joining Fordham, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the One Earth Future Foundation and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of South Carolina in 2019.