Danny Steed's Visiting Fellowship
Visiting Fellowship Program / 26 Apr 2019

Danny Steed's Visiting Fellowship


This month, Danny Steed joined us for a Visiting Fellowship at The Hague Program for Cyber Norms at Leiden University's The Hague Campus. We sat down with him to hear about his fellowship experience.

Why were you interested in coming here?

For me the situation is certainly a bit different, as I am not currently a full-time academic. Because my day job is now in operational delivery for cyber security in the private sector, it is a huge challenge to be able to carve out the time to stay as academically active as I am. The short term residential stay offered by the Program was hugely attractive, it allowed me a solid block of time away from the job to focus on my next scholarly pursuits, without being away for so long that my employer would not let me attend.

Beyond this, there is simply the attraction of the team and the objectives that the Cyber Norms Program is looking at itself. Having met most of the team at a conference last year, it was clear that there were many areas of overlap between what I was then writing for my latest book and planning for the next one, and the opportunity was there to get together for a few weeks and try to identify some collaborative ventures for conference papers. In my experience, there are very few institutes that are genuinely looking at cyber security in a serious, concerted way as a dedicated team. The Hague is absolutely one of those few, and the chance to come and learn from the fruits of their work over the past two years was simply too attractive to pass up.

What did you work on during your fellowship?

Having just finished my latest book, The Politics and Technology of Cyberspace, the main objective for me was to identify and plan what my next ventures will be. The month spent here has been invaluable in me structuring my thoughts, being exposed to the work of the researchers here in The Hague, and plotting my own research for the next couple of years. With the way that ReSolve Cyber has been growing and our increasing workload back in London, I was very conscious that this may be my only chance at a solid block of undisturbed time to prepare work for some time to come.

With that in mind, I have been working on the premise for my next book project, which will explore the impact of cyberspace upon espionage. The idea being to fully analyse how Intelligence Studies as a subject needs to consider the full implications of cyber on the practice and theory of intelligence operations; with everything that has happened and been revealed about the work of the intelligence services in this space, I believe quite strongly that scholarship remains some way behind in conceptualising this. The time has also been spent engaging some editors in the early stages of preparing the book proposal.

I am also planning a joint article with one of the researchers here on the Program to explore the evolution of secrecy as a concept for intelligence in the information age. The basic premise of this is that operational integrity seems so much more fragile due to the access of information online. Secrecy is always an absolute necessity to intelligence, but its meaning and its use in practice has clearly evolved, we want to explore why and how.

Finally, there are a range of conferences that I am aligning some of these ideas to, to make sure I maintain the exposure to scholars when I am able to attend events away from the day job.

I have basically treated this month as my own "boot camp" to prime the ideas I will work on for the next couple of years.

What’s next for you?

Well, there is getting back to the day job first! We have a large number of client accounts that I need to get back to, the basics of helping protect businesses and individuals online, grassroots cyber security if you will. When it comes to the scholarly pursuits however there are two priority next steps, the first being to get a proposal in for The Cyber Norms Program conference here in November. I very much hope to return and present on the results of my continued efforts. Then there is submitting the proposal for my next book, which I really hope to have a contract established for this summer.

Finally, I would just like to offer my sincere thanks to The Cyber Norms Program Team. First for having me here and giving me the opportunity to use their facilities and resources to nurture my new ideas. Above all though for the hospitality and support for an Englishman venturing abroad for the month! It has been great to visit and I certainly hope to maintain the solid professional relationships that have been built with the Program.

Are you also interested to join our Visiting Fellowship Program? Applications are welcomed, reviewed and awarded year-round. Check out the Fellowships section for more information and the application process.