STEMPLES Plus as a Framework to Assess Cyber Capabilities

STEMPLES Plus is a framework used to assess the cyber capabilities of a country. STEMPLES Plus stands for Social, Technical, Economic, Military, Political, Legal, Educational, and Security (internal) factors, with "Plus" referring to additional factors such as Culture, Education, and Organizational structures. Treadstone 71 uses the STEMPLES Plus framework to assess an adversary country's cyber capabilities from the standpoint of their ability to execute various cyber operations against us.

Social Factors: Evaluate the social factors influencing a country's cyber capabilities. This includes the level of awareness and digital literacy among the population, the presence of skilled cybersecurity professionals, public perception of cybersecurity, and the level of cooperation between the government, private sector, and civil society in addressing cyber threats.

Technical Factors: Assess the technical aspects of a country's cyber capabilities. This involves evaluating the sophistication of the country's technological infrastructure, the availability of advanced cybersecurity tools and technologies, research and development efforts in cybersecurity, and the level of expertise in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, or quantum computing.

Economic Factors: Examine the economic factors contributing to a country's cyber capabilities. Evaluate the investment in cybersecurity research and development, the presence of cybersecurity-related industries and businesses, the level of cybersecurity maturity in critical sectors, and the economic impact of cyber threats on the country's economy.

Military Factors: Evaluate the military aspects of a country's cyber capabilities. This includes assessing the presence and capabilities of dedicated military cyber units, the integration of cyber capabilities into military strategies and doctrines, the level of investment in cyber defense and offense capabilities, and the country's cyber warfare capabilities.

Political Factors: Analyze the political factors that shape a country's cyber capabilities. This involves assessing the government's commitment to cybersecurity, the existence of national cybersecurity strategies and policies, the legal framework governing cyber activities, international cooperation on cyber issues, and the country's diplomatic posture on cyber matters.

Legal Factors: Examine the legal framework governing cyber activities in the country. Evaluate the adequacy of laws and regulations related to cybersecurity, data protection, privacy, intellectual property, and cybercrime. Assess the enforcement mechanisms, legal procedures, and international legal obligations related to cyber activities.

Educational Factors: Consider the educational aspects of a country's cyber capabilities. This includes assessing academic commitments to cyber security, hybrid warfare, cognitive warfare, influence operations cyber intelligence and counterintelligence in conducting cyber operations, the country's commercial environment related to cyber conferences, information sharing, associations, ethical hacking groups, and awareness. 

  • Security Factors: Incorporate security factors to assess the country's overall security posture, including the robustness of critical infrastructure protection, incident response capabilities, cybersecurity education and awareness programs, and the resilience of the country's cybersecurity ecosystem.
  • Religion: Assess the influence of religion on cybersecurity practices, policies, and attitudes within the country. Examine how religious beliefs and values may impact the perception of cybersecurity, privacy, and the use of technology.
  • Demographics: Analyze the demographic factors that can affect cyber capabilities, such as the size and diversity of the population, the level of digital literacy, the availability of skilled cybersecurity professionals, and the digital divide among different demographic groups.
  • Social Psychology: Consider social psychology factors that can influence cybersecurity practices, including trust, social norms, group dynamics, and individual behaviors. Analyze how social psychological factors may shape attitudes towards cybersecurity, data privacy, and adherence to security practices.
  • Strategic Factors: Evaluate the strategic dimensions of a country's cyber capabilities. This involves analyzing the country's long-term goals, priorities, and investments in cybersecurity, its cyber defense posture, offensive capabilities, and cyber intelligence capabilities. Assess the integration of cyber capabilities into national security strategies and the alignment of cyber objectives with broader geopolitical interests.

Additionally, we use the "Plus" factors in STEMPLES Plus—Culture, Education, and Organizational structures to provide additional insights into a country's cyber capabilities. These factors help assess the cultural attitudes toward cybersecurity, the state of cybersecurity education and training programs, and the organizational structures and collaborations that drive cybersecurity initiatives within the country.

By systematically analyzing the STEMPLES Plus factors, you can comprehensively understand a country's cyber capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. This assessment can inform policy decisions, threat modeling, and the development of effective cybersecurity strategies and countermeasures.

By incorporating "Religion, Demographics, and Social Psychology" into the STEMPLES Plus framework, you can better understand a country's cyber capabilities and the contextual factors that influence them. This expanded framework helps capture the societal and human aspects that play a role in cybersecurity practices, policies, and attitudes within a given country.

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