Developing political response framework to cyber hostilities

Jarno Limnéll*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


The debate on both the impacts of cyber attacks and how to respond to them is active, but precedents are a few. At the same time, cybersecurity issues have been catapulted into the highest of high politics: cyberpolitics. The objective of this chapter is to encourage political decision-makers (and others) to create a framework of proportionate ways to respond to different kinds of cyber hostility. The proportionate response is a complicated, situational political question. This chapter creates a context for the contemporary politics of cyber affairs in the world and determines five variables that policymakers need to consider when evaluating appropriate responses to a cyber attack. As offensive cyber activity becomes more prevalent, policymakers will be challenged to develop proportionate responses to disruptive or destructive attacks. There has already been significant pressure to “do something” in the light of the alleged state-sponsored attacks. Past experience suggests that most policy responses are ad hoc. This chapter comprehensively analyzes how cyber attacks should be treated as a political question and represents a rough framework for policymakers to build on. The chapter presents five variables that policymakers need to consider when evaluating appropriate responses to cyber hostilities. Combining incident impact, policy options, and other variables, the framework outlines the different levers of cyberpolitics that can be applied in response to the escalating levels of cyber incidents. The response framework is also an integral part of the state’s cyber deterrence.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntelligent Systems, Control and Automation
Subtitle of host publicationScience and Engineering
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-75307-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-75306-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books

Publication series

NameIntelligent Systems, Control and Automation: Science and Engineering
ISSN (Print)2213-8986
ISSN (Electronic)2213-8994


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