UPLOADING WAR: The Weaponisation of 0s and 1s and the Changing Nature of War

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Author: Noah Bell; [2021-02-25]

Keywords: war; cyberwar; cyberattacks; violence; legitimacy; maps;

Abstract: As digital technology revolutionises the world, it is not surprising that it is altering the way states conduct themselves, especially in terms of war. War is a powerful policy tool of states and its implications are massive. This thesis looks at how existing definitions of war are insufficient in dealing with cyberwar and what are the implications by relying on them. It addresses a gap within political science of the nature of cyberwar and how it relates to the concepts of violence, legitimacy, targets, and political outcomes. This thesis highlights how a reluctance to reassess war as a solely physical phenomenon is problematic. Using a heuristic comparative case study analysis of i) Stuxnet (Israel and US attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities); (ii) Russian election interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election; and (iii) NotPetya (Russian cyberattacks on the Ukraine), a foundational theory is developed. This foundation is built around a concept of an extended causal chain that better describes the mechanisms through which cyberwar is an effective tool. This will provide a basis for further research to build on, as the field is impeded by a lack of data to conduct rigorous theory testing.

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