Immune from Cyberfire? The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Cyberwarfare

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Unlike kinetic weapons, cyberweapons purport to target facilities (rather than individuals) and, to date, have caused no immediate injuries. While some theorists focus upon the direct nature of a cyberattack, the chapter focuses on the harm a cyberattack causes. Although many believe that cyberattacks do not cause sufficient harm to violate noncombatant immunity, we dispute this. The chapter examines the effects of long-term destruction brought about in the course of regular warfare to draw conclusions about the probable knock-on effects of cyberterrorism. To evaluate the psychological effects of cyberterrorism the chapter draws on existing studies of cyberbullying and identity theft. Additionally, the chapter offers our own data drawn from simulated cyberattacks that include invasion of privacy, unauthorized dissemination of personal information, stolen data, and threats. The chapter's analysis suggests that cyberterrorism causes significant anxiety and substantially influences rational political thinking, so much so that cyberterrorism violates the principle of noncombatant immunity even when it does not cause physical harm.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBinary bullets
Subtitle of host publication the ethics of cyberwarfare
EditorsFritz Allhoff, Adam Henschke, Bradley Jay Strawser
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic) 0-19-022110-0
ISBN (Print)9780190221072
StatePublished - 2016


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