Kyle Sean Cunliffe

 Kyle Sean Cunliffe


Department of International Politics

Contact Details


General Research Interests

  • Espionage & intelligence gathering
  • Cyberspace, cyber espionage, & cybersecurity
  • Intelligence technology
  • Contemporary counterintelligence


Publications and Conference Papers

  • ‘Toward George J? Cyberspace and its impact on human intelligence’, Paper presented at the War and Intelligence Studies: Challenges for the Twenty- First Century Research Conference, Aberystwyth University, 3rd-4th June 2014.
  • Cunliffe, K. Review of ‘The new era in US national security: an introduction to emerging threats and challenges’ by J. A. Jarmon (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), Intelligence and National Security Journal, 2015

Funding Awards

  • E.H. Carr


Professional Membership

  • Aberystwyth Centre for Intelligence and International Security Studies (CIISS)
  • British International Studies Association (BISA)


Aberystwyth University

  • 2013/2014 IQ30620 Cyber warfare
  • 2013/2014 IQ31320 Espionage studies
  • 2014/2015 IQ32120 Modern China




My thesis examines the influence of cyberspace on traditional espionage affairs. With cyberspace complicating the ways we store and protect information, politicians and academics have developed an agenda of electronic intelligence empowerment - ‘cyber espionage’ (hacking) has become the buzzword for cheap, readily available information theft. My objective, however, is to consider the implications of cyber technology upon old-school traditional espionage (human intelligence). Human intelligence is a vital asset to states and a core component of advanced cyber-espionage, yet its state of nature in a modern, interconnected society has been vastly overlooked.

Recruiting and running human agents is one of the most complicated, sluggish, and high risk activities in intelligence gathering, yet its rewards are unmatched. On the one hand, cyberspace - with its increasing effects on how build, maintain, and communicate our relationships - posits many potential advantages to spying, perhaps enabling the recruitment and running of agents entirely online. On the other, the perversions of data-trails, online surveillance, and burgeoning digital vulnerabilities posits many potential risks. Therefore my aim is to investigate where it’s real value lies, and to assess its implications for both the states who conduct traditional espionage, and those who seek to counter it.