Cyberwar has indeed not taken place. Yet?

Mercedes Abdalla


Is there such a thing as cyber warfare? In light of the increasing prominence of cyber attacks targeted against computer systems of private, public institutions as well as critical infrastructure academics, politicians and journalists alike have posed the question whether cyber space has become the fifth domain of warfare. In academia the notion of cyber attacks as instruments of war has been studied across a wide range of disciplines; yet, a consensus on whether cyber attacks are in fact acts of war still has not been reached yet. The study aims to add to this academic debate, approaching the question through the lens of legality, grounding the analysis on international law and specifically, the Tallinn Manual. Utilising the Manual’s definition of Cyber Attacks and Cyber Attacks as Acts of International Armed Conflict, the research paper explores whether two infamous cyber operations first in the context of the Russian-Georgian war, and later in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict can be regarded as acts of war. Based on the in-depth analysis of the two case studies, the study finds that cyber war has indeed not taken place yet.

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