Security

Members of NATO sit around table in conference

Security

FSI's scholars tackle a range of issues, from longstanding concerns like nuclear nonproliferation and military defense to new challenges such as cybersecurity, biosecurity and emerging regional conflicts.

Research Spotlight

Overlapping atoms combine in the shape of a flower

Particulate Plutonium Released from the Fukushima Daiichi Meltdowns

A new study reveals particles that were released from nuclear plants damaged in the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami contained small amounts of radioactive plutonium.
Potemkin Papers

Potemkin Pages & Personas: Assessing GRU Online Operations, 2014-2019

Upon request by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), researchers reviewed a data set of social media posts that Facebook provided to SSCI.
A woman in Mexico grieves

Living in Fear: The Dynamics of Extortion in Mexico’s Drug War

Using new survey data from Mexico, including list experiments to elicit responses about potentially illegal behavior, this article measures the prevalence of extortion and assistance among drug trafficking organizations.

Featured Scholars

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Megan Palmer

CISAC Affiliated Researcher
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Megan Palmer

CISAC Affiliated Researcher
Executive Director, Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives, Department of Bioengineering
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Scott Sagan

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Scott Sagan

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science
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Alex Stamos

Director, Stanford Internet Observatory
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Alex Stamos

Director, Stanford Internet Observatory
Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution
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Amy Zegart

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Amy Zegart

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution

Upcoming Events

See all upcoming events related to our research on international security.

Publications

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Journal Article

Rodney C. Ewing, Rodney C. Ewing
Science of The Total Environment, 2020

A new study reveals particles that were released from nuclear plants damaged in the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami contained small amounts of radioactive plutonium.

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Policy Brief

Marietje Schaake, Rob Reich
2020

AS WE APPROACH THE 2020 ELECTION IN THE UNITED STATES, content moderation on social media platforms is taking center stage. From speech issues on Facebook and Twitter to YouTube videos and TikTok brigands, the current election season is being reshaped by curation concerns about what’s allowed online, what’s not, upranking and downranking, and who’s deciding.

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Policy Brief

Rob Reich, Marietje Schaake
2020

THE EMERGENCE OF A DIGITAL SPHERE where public debate takes place raises profound questions about the connection between online information and polarization, echo chambers, and filter bubbles. Does the information ecosystem created by social media companies support the conditions necessary for a healthy democracy? Is it different from other media? These are particularly urgent questions as the United States approaches a contentious 2020 election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Policy Brief

Marietje Schaake, Rob Reich
2020

THE 2020 ELECTION IN THE UNITED STATES will take place on November 3 in the midst of a global pandemic, economic downturn, social unrest, political polarization, and a sudden shift in the balance of power in the U.S Supreme Court. On top of these issues, the technological layer impacting the public debate, as well as the electoral process itself, may well determine the election outcome.

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Commentary

Asfandyar Mir, Asfandyar Mir, Colin P. Clarke
Foreign Policy, 2020

Nineteen years after 9/11, al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has yet to achieve the household notoriety evoked by his immediate predecessor, Osama bin Laden. In part that’s because the United States hasn’t cared enough to focus attention on him. Aside from massive financial overtures for intelligence on his whereabouts—there’s currently a $25 million bounty offered for his head, higher than the reward for any other terrorist in the world—the U.S. government has been relatively blasé about al Qaeda since Zawahiri took over in 2011.

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Journal Article

Asfandyar Mir, Asfandyar Mir, Colin P. Clarke
Foreign Affairs, 2020

Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaeda still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. But very few experts on Salafi-jihadi movements would dismiss the group outright. So when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confidently declared in a March interview on Fox & Friends that “al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self,” we were startled and concerned.

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Book

Donald K. Emmerson
2020

Southeast Asia is arguably the most diverse region in the world. Accordingly, rather than addressing the exact same question, the contributors to this volume have — as experts on Southeast Asia-China relations — explored the matters they see as most important and most deserving of exploration and exposure. After the editor’s introduction, the chapters proceed in pairs. Each pair and a closing chapter cover a distinctive theme in Southeast Asia’s interactions with China.

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Journal Article

Mark A. Hall, Michelle Mello, David Studdert
New England Journal of Medicine , 2020

In March 2020, when many U.S. states and localities issued their first emergency orders to address Covid-19, there was widespread acceptance of the government’s legal authority to respond quickly and aggressively to this unprecedented crisis. Today, that acceptance is fraying. As initial orders expire and states move to extend or modify them, legal challenges have sprouted. The next phase of the pandemic response will see restrictions dialed up and down as threat levels change.  As public and political resistance grows, further legal challenges are inevitable.

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Commentary

Anja Manuel, Anja Manuel, Kathleen Hicks
2020

As the Chinese government has set out to harness the growing strength of the Chinese technology sector to bolster its military, policymakers in the United States have reacted with mounting alarm. U.S.

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Book

Nathaniel Persily, Nathaniel Persily, Joshua Tucker
2020

Concluding Chapter of Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field and Prospects for Reform (Cambridge Press, forthcoming September 2020)

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Case Studies

Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, Douglas K. Owens, et al.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, 2020

Yet there has been no national-level, comprehensive review of the evidence for public health emergency preparedness and response (PHEPR) practices. Recognizing this deficiency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine three years ago and asked them to convene a national panel of public health experts to review the evidence for emergency preparedness and response. The committee members included Stanford Health Policy Director Douglas K.

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Journal Article

David Studdert, Mark A. Hall
New England Journal of Medicine, 2020

Urgent responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have halted movement and work and dramatically changed daily routines for much of the world’s population. In the United States, many states and localities have ordered or urged residents to stay home when able and to practice physical distancing when not. Meanwhile, unemployment is surging, schools are closed, and businesses have been shuttered. Resistance to drastic disease-control measures is already evident. Rising infection rates and mortality, coupled with scientific uncertainty about Covid-19, should keep resentment at bay — for a while.

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Commentary

David Studdert, Matthew Miller, Garen Wintemute
The New York Times , 2020

Millions of Americans have experienced the coronavirus pandemic directly, as they or their loved ones suffered through infection. But for most of us, the experience is defined by weeks and months on end stuck at home. The shut-ins are testing the safety of our home environments.

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Commentary

Anja Manuel, Anja Manuel
2020

A new shadow war is underway within the International Telecommunication Union, one of the obscure organizations that sets global technical standards.

International standard-setting is a morass of positive intentions and poor execution. When the process works well, it selects the best technologies based on merit and, for example, allows people to use their personal cellphone numbers anywhere on Earth. When the system fails, we end up with different electrical outlets in each country and scramble for adapters.

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Journal Article

David Studdert, Yifan Zhang , Sonja A. Swanson, Lea Prince, Jonathan A. Rodden, Erin E. Holsinger, Matthew J. Spittal, Garen G. Wintemute , Matthew Miller
New England Journal of Medicine , 2020

BACKGROUND

Research has consistently identified firearm availability as a risk factor for suicide. However, existing studies are relatively small in scale, estimates vary widely, and no study appears to have tracked risks from commencement of firearm ownership.

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Working Paper

Gregory Falco, Martin Eling, Danielle Jablanski, Virginia Miller, Lawrence A. Gordon, Shaun Shuxun Wang, Joan Schmit, Russell Thomas, Mauro Elvedi, Thomas Maillart, Emy Donavan, Simon Dejung, Matthias Weber, Eric Durand, Franklin Nutter, Uzi Scheffer, Gil Arazi, Gilbert Ohana, Herbert Lin
The 2019 Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS), 2020

A Research Agenda for Cyber Risk and Cyber Insurance

By: Gregory Falco, Stanford University

Martin Eling, University of St. Gallen

Danielle Jablanski, Stanford University

Virginia Miller, Stanford University

Lawrence A. Gordon, University of Maryland

Shaun Shuxun Wang, Nanyang Technological University

Joan Schmit, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Russell Thomas, RMS and George Mason University

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White Paper

Andrew Grotto, Janine Zacharia
2020

The run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election illustrated how vulnerable our most venerated journalistic outlets are to a new kind of information warfare. Reporters are a targeted adversary of foreign and domestic actors who want to harm our democracy. And to cope with this threat, especially in an election year, news organizations need to prepare for another wave of false, misleading, and hacked information. Often, the information will be newsworthy.

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Journal Article

Thomas Fingar, Jean C. Oi
The Washington Quarterly, 2020

The easy phases of China’s quest for wealth and power are over. After forty years, every one of a set of favorable conditions has diminished or vanished, and China’s future, neither inevitable nor immutable, will be shaped by the policy choices of party leaders facing at least eleven difficult challenges, including the novel coronavirus. 

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Journal Article

David Lobell
Global Change Biology, 2020

Researchers including David Lobell analyze how human-caused climate change has impacted a water defecit in Southern Africa and might contribute to a rising food security crisis in the region.

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Commentary

Andrew Grotto, Andrew Grotto
2020

Despite pressure from President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, Apple continues to stand its ground and refuses to re-engineer iPhones so law enforcement can unlock the devices. Apple has maintained that it has done everything required by law and that creating a "backdoor" would undermine cybersecurity and privacy for iPhone users everywhere.

Apple is right to stand firm in its position that building a "backdoor" could put user data at risk.

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Journal Article

Nathaniel Persily, Nathaniel Persily
2019

The Program on Democracy and the Internet runs the work of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age which will produce guidelines to support democracies, particularly those of the global south. 

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Conference Memos

Rosamond L. Naylor
High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, 2019

As the global population and people’s incomes rise, the demand for ocean-derived food will continue to grow. At the same time, hunger and malnutrition continues to be a challenge in many countries, particularly in rural or developing areas. Looking to the ocean as a source of protein produced using low-carbon methodologies will be critical for food security, nutrition and economic stability, especially in coastal countries where hunger and malnutrition are a challenge.

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