Examining ideologically-motivated cyberattacks

Examining ideologically-motivated cyberattacks
Homeland security risk sciences
Past Projects


Examining Ideologically-Motivated Cyberattacks to Better Secure Cyber Critical Infrastructure from Compromise

Little is known about ideologically-motivated attacks performed by individuals and groups operating seemingly independent from nation-states. This research will document the scope of attacks and methodologies of attackers by ideological alignment, and the economic harm caused by industry section and target size. By identifying methods to reduce the risks of future attacks through better detection and defense techniques, this project will develop tools that can be implemented to improve the state of cyber-readiness and resiliency to cyberattacks.


This project will provide an overview of the incidents, perpetrators, and targets of ideologically motivated cyberattacks, as well as the extent to which future attacks can be prevented or mitigated through changes to cybersecurity practice and criminal justice system interventions. A first-of-its-kind open-source database of cyberattacks against US infrastructure will be created to enable:

  • Development of a set of data to understand cyberattacks performed by ideological actors with and without state-ties and access threats posed by both groups.
  • Assessment of the threat of future attacks by both sets of actors against specific industry and government sectors based on prior attack behaviors
  • Evidence-based recommendations to better secure targets from future compromises in light of previous attacks.


Better understanding of the historical and current state of threats from nation-state and non-nation-state sponsored ideological actors operating in online spaces and their efforts to cause economic or other harm to US critical infrastructure. Enabling short and long-term predictions of the probable future cyberattacks against various industry and government sectors to reduce the likelihood of successful attacks originating from both threat groups.

Research Leadership Team

Principal Investigator: Thomas Holt, Michigan State University