Herbert Lin

Hank J. Holland Fellow in Cyber Policy and Security, Hoover Institution

Herb Lin is a senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Hank J. Holland Fellow in cyber policy and security at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University.  His research interests concern the policy-related dimensions of cybersecurity and cyberspace; he is particularly interested in and knowledgeable about the use of offensive operations in cyberspace, especially as instruments of national policy.  In addition to his positions at Stanford University, he is chief scientist emeritus for the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, at the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies, where he served from 1990 through 2014 as study director of major projects on public policy and information technology, and adjunct senior research scholar and senior fellow in cybersecurity (not in residence) at the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies in the School for International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Before his NRC service, he was a professional staff member and staff scientist for the House Armed Services Committee (1986–90), where his portfolio included defense policy and arms control issues. He received his doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To read more about Herb Lin's interests, see "An Evolving Research Agenda in Cyber Policy and Security."

He is also a longtime folk and swing dancer and a poor magician. Apart from his work on cyberspace and cybersecurity, he has published on cognitive science, science education, biophysics, and arms control and defense policy. He also consults on K–12 math and science education.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

More On The Active Defense Certainty Act

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Friday, March 24, 2017

Bobby Chesney raised a number of issues regarding the Active Defense Certainty Act, and I’m just getting into it now. I think Bobby’s comments are spot on, but I want to amplify some of his concerns.

Analysis and Commentary

What Is Julian Assange's Game? Helping Putin, It Seems

by Herbert Linvia Newsweek
Friday, March 17, 2017

The hypocrisy of WikiLeaks should now be transparent to all, even those who initially supported them. Earlier this month, WikiLeaks posted a trove of documents, allegedly from the CIA, describing various hacking tools that the CIA has in its possession. Many of these tools are based on vulnerabilities in existing computer systems and computer-driven devices, such as televisions.


A Few Observations On Wikileaks And Vault7: Hacking At The CIA

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

First, I echo Nick’s observation that it’s hardly a surprise that the CIA has a bunch of its own hacking tools. Indeed, if they didn’t, I’d say someone ought to be fired.

Analysis and Commentary

What Would Be A Sufficiently Strong Response To Russian Hacking Of The U.S. Election?

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Saturday, December 31, 2016

A variety of recent reports have noted complaints that the sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the November election are insufficient.

Analysis and Commentary

The Invisible Costs Of Cyber Weapons

by Herbert Linvia Defense One
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

For kinetic weapons like tanks, production costs generally outweigh research and development. For cyber weapons, R&D is almost everything.


Regarding the Report of the Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity…

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

As many Lawfare readers know, I was honored to be one of 12 members of President Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. We turned in our final report to the White House on Thursday, December 1, and it was released to the public the next day.

Analysis and Commentary

A Two-Person Rule For Ordering The Use Of Nuclear Weapons, Even For POTUS?

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The election has made me contemplate the following question: should even the President of the United States, regardless of party or the individual involved, have the unilateral authority to order the use of nuclear weapons under all possible circumstances?

Analysis and Commentary

DOJ Intake And Charging Policy For Computer Crime Matters

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On October 25, 2016 the Department of Justice released its “intake and charging policy for computer crime matters. This policy has been operative since September 2014, but is just being released now.

Analysis and Commentary

Still More On Loud Cyber Weapons

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In my first post on this subject, I quoted a news story in fedscoop saying that the development of “loud” offensive cyber tools, [that could be definitively traced to the United States and thus] able to possibly deter future intrusions, represent a “different paradigm shift” from what the agency has used to in the past.


U.S. Cyber Responses To Russian Hacking Of The November Election

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Monday, October 17, 2016

Recent news reports regarding Russian hacks affecting the November election suggest that the United States is preparing on possible U.S. cyber actions in response, such as revealing information to the Russian public about Putin’s financial holdings that would be embarrassing for him.