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The Illusive Distinction of Cyberwar and Cyberattacks: Exploring the Targeting of Cyberattacks in Armed Conflict
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Since previous research has predicted the emergence of cyberwar distinctly from cyberattacks, the targets of cyberattacks in armed conflict should presumably differ from the targets of cyberattacks in the absence of armed conflict. This thesis therefore poses the research question: how does armed conflict affect the targeting of cyberattacks? Hypothesizing that state actors are more likely to target military computer networks in armed conflict than in the absence of armed conflict, a cross-case comparison is performed through a qualitative case study to test this claim. Two cases of armed conflict, Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2015 are compared against two cases in the absence of armed conflict, Estonia in 2007 and Stuxnet in 2010 following the method of structured focus comparison. The findings show that in all four cases, the cyberattacks, disregarding whether armed conflict was present or not, the targets were civilian computer networks of two types: the overall electronic infrastructure which affected media and communications as we all government and financial services, or critical infrastructure. The findings therefore indicate that cyberattacks and their targets are equal in armed conflict and in the absence of it, thus cyberattacks should be understood as a means of influence. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 68
Keywords [en]
cyberwar, cyberattacks, structured focus comparison, case study, means of influence
National Category
Social Sciences Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-352971OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-352971DiVA, id: diva2:1215611
Subject / course
Peace and Conflict Studies
Educational program
Master Programme in Peace and Conflict Studies
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-25 Created: 2018-06-08 Last updated: 2018-06-25Bibliographically approved

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