What specific constraints do private companies face? What is the role of private companies in outing state-sponsored attacks? States accused of cyber attacks use three commonly recurring arguments to try to undermine claims by private companies—but as with judgment inherent to attribution, these arguments are based on characteristics inherent to the functioning of cyber security companies. Accused states attempt to bring into question the companies’ independence, and so to undermine the validity of their claims. To do so, they point out that many former government officials work for the company in question; that the timing of reports being published can appear to be in support of a government’s policies; and that companies are not always keen on attributing any attacks at all, and are focused only on particular, official enemies of the state. This chapter will verify the strength of these arguments. It concludes that such critiques of private companies often lack an evidence base, exaggerate certain points, and can read at times closer to conspiracy theory than to serious counterarguments.
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