Herbert Lin

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

Dr. Herb Lin is Hank J. Holland Fellow in Cyber Policy and Security at the Hoover Institution and senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, both at Stanford University.  His research interests relate broadly to policy-related dimensions of cybersecurity and cyberspace, and he is particularly interested in the use of offensive operations in cyberspace as instruments of national policy and in the security dimensions of information warfare and influence operations on national security.  In addition to his positions at Stanford University, he is Chief Scientist, Emeritus for the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, 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; and a member of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.  In 2016, he served on President Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.  Prior to his NRC service, he was a professional staff member and staff scientist for the House Armed Services Committee (1986-1990), where his portfolio included defense policy and arms control issues. He received his doctorate in physics from MIT.

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

Avocationally, he is a longtime folk and swing dancer and a lousy magician. Apart from his work on cyberspace and cybersecurity, he is published in 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


Offensive Cyber Operations In US National Security

by Amy Zegart, Herbert Lin, Bill Finanvia Brookings Institution
Friday, April 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows Amy Zegart and Herb Lin discusses their recent book Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations.

Analysis and Commentary

On Risk Mitigation And Huawei: A Response

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Today, Lawfare published an article by Alexei Bulazel, Sophia d’Antoine, Perri Adams and Dave Aitel on “The Risks of Huawei Risk Mitigation” that seemingly disagrees with an earlier piece of mine on the topic. But apart from a bit of snark about my use of the confidentiality-integrity-availability (CIA) triad as a pillar of the security discussion and the definition of risk mitigation, I don’t disagree with anything in their piece and endorse almost all of it.

Analysis and Commentary

Principles Of AI Governance And Ethics Should Apply To All Technologies

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Friday, April 12, 2019

Despite Google’s recent dissolution of its artificial intelligence (AI) ethics board, IT vendors (including Google) are increasingly defining principles to guide the development of AI applications and solutions. And it’s worth taking a look at what these principles actually say. Appended to the end of this post are the principles from Google and Microsoft, thoughts from Salesforce.org (closely aligned with Salesforce), and AI principles from three groups not aligned with specific companies.


Huawei And Managing 5G Risk

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Based on cybersecurity concerns, the United States, Australia and New Zealand have staked out policy positions that prevent or strongly discourage the acquisition of Huawei 5G technology for use in the national communications infrastructure of these nations. Other U.S. allies have announced or are considering policy positions that do not go so far and would indeed allow such acquisition at least to some extent.

In the News

Doomsday Clock Frozen At Two Minutes To Apocalypse

quoting Herbert Linvia Milbank Monitor
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The “new abnormal” the world is facing from risks like nuclear war and climate change has led the symbolic Doomsday Clock to be frozen at the closest it has ever been to midnight. The clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) in 1947, intends to warn of impending disasters.

In the News

The Beautiful Benefits Of Contemplating Doom

quoting Herbert Linvia Wired
Monday, March 25, 2019

Every year, in late January, a small group of beetle-browed scientists, politicians, and journalists gather at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to ponder the end of the world. This is a day of solemn kitsch: the unveiling of the Doomsday Clock, the minimalist midcentury dataviz that, since 1947, has been adjusted to dramatize the imminence of global catastrophe.

Analysis and Commentary

A Lesson From The College Admissions Scandal For The Encryption Debate

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Friday, March 22, 2019
Last Tuesday, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts announced charges against dozens of parents, college sports coaches and test-prep teachers with in a scheme to win admission to big name universities including Georgetown, Yale and Stanford.
In the News

There Are Too Many Red Lines In Cyberspace

quoting Herbert Linvia Lawfare Blog
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

U.S. officials increasingly express old frustrations about the lack of standards for appropriate state behavior in cyberspace.


Hoover In D.C. Puts Scholars In Conversation With Policymakers

featuring Hoover Institution, Mike Franc, Amy Zegart, Herbert Lin, Russell Roberts, Adam J. Whitevia Stanford News
Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When policymakers in Washington D.C. want an outsider perspective on a problem, they don’t need to leave the nation’s capital to get a 10,000-foot view.

Analysis and Commentary

Missile Sabotage By Covert Means

by Herbert Linvia Lawfare
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

In a Feb. 13 story in the New York Times, David Sanger and William Broad report that the Trump administration has accelerated a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets by inserting faulty parts and materials into Iran’s aerospace supply chains.