The Ethics of Cyberwar

New forms of cyber technology pose difficult dilemmas for policy makers and society in general, as they create new and unpredictable risks and ethical questions.

The use of cyber-weapons is one particular example, opening up a new ‘front’ in contemporary international conflict.

The unique nature of cyber-war undermines many aspects of our traditional understanding of the nature of warfare and the ethical conditions that should regulate it.

Yet despite the fact that cyber-weapons have been frequently employed in recent years, there has been worryingly little reflection on the question of their moral permissibility or the moral constraints that should restrain their use.

Project details:

This research programme, funded by the British Academy and directed by Matt Sleat, will address this lacunae.

It shall demonstrate that several facets of the established moral framework of conflict provided by traditional just war theory are challenged by the distinctive nature of cyber-warfare and need to be adapted to offer an account of the ethics of cyber-war better suited to the character of international conflicts in the digital age.

The project shall also seek to inform the public about the realistic threat posed by cyber-war and engage with practitioners to argue that cyber-weapons require us to reconsider the ethical terms of modern warfare.

More projects: The Politics of Co-production

The unique nature of cyber-war undermines our traditional understanding of warfare and the ethical conditions that should regulate it

Related research streams

See more on our research stream: media, science and technological change.