Books  |    |  December 13, 2016

Ethics and Cyber Warfare: The Quest for Responsible Security in the Age of Digital Warfare

By George Lucas.
Published by Oxford University Press.
208 pages.

From North Korea’s recent attacks on Sony to perpetual news reports of successful hackings and criminal theft, cyber conflict has emerged as a major topic of public concern. Yet even as attacks on military, civilian, and commercial targets have escalated, there is not yet a clear set of ethical guidelines that apply to cyber warfare. Indeed, like terrorism, cyber warfare is commonly believed to be a war without rules. Given the prevalence cyber warfare, developing a practical moral code for this new form of conflict is more important than ever.

In Ethics and Cyber Warfare, internationally-respected ethicist George Lucas delves into the confounding realm of cyber conflict. Comparing “state-sponsored hacktivism” to the transformative impact of “irregular warfare” in conventional armed conflict, Lucas offers a critique of legal approaches to governance, and outlines a new approach to ethics and “just war” reasoning. Lucas draws upon the political philosophies of Alasdair MacIntyre, John Rawls, and J├╝rgen Habermas to provide a framework for understanding these newly-emerging standards for cyber conflict, and ultimately presents a professional code of ethics for a new generation of “cyber warriors.”

Lucas concludes with a discussion of whether preemptive self-defense efforts – such as the massive government surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden – can ever be justified, addressing controversial topics such as privacy, anonymity, and public trust. Well-reasoned and timely, Ethics and Cyber Warfare is a must-read for anyone with an interest in philosophy, ethics, or cybercrime.

  • Outlines a new code of ethics for today’s “cyber warriors”.
  • Presents the controversial new thesis that “state sponsored hacktivism” is a form of warfare.
  • Explores the ethical and legal dimensions of cyber warfare, grounding the discussion in a broad revisionist approach to military ethics and just war theory.
  • Offers a thorough and authoritative critique of international law and the Tallinn Manual

Table of Contents

Introduction: Crime or Warfare?

1. Cyber (In)security: Threat Assessment in the Cyber Domain

What, When, and Where?
Three Ways of Being a Hacktivist
Conventional Warfare
Unrestricted Warfare
State- Sponsored Hacktivism as a New Form of Warfare

2. Is There a Role for Ethics or Law in Cyber Conflict?
Irregular War and Cyberwar
Ethics and “Folk Morality”
Ethics and the Law
Ethics and Just War Theory
Strategic Plan of the Book
Applying Moral Theories in the Cyber Domain

3. The Tallinn Manual: International Law in the Aftermath of Estonia
International Law Applicable to Stuxnet
International Law and State- Sponsored Hacktivism
The Tallinn Manual
International Law and the Estonian Cyber attacks
“There Oughta’ Be a Law!”
Why the Tallinn Manual Failed

4. Genuine Ethics versus “Folk Morality” in Cyberspace
The Advantages of Taking “the Moral Point of View”
The Challenge of Folk Morality for Authentic Ethics
The Origins of Universal Moral Norms
Thinking Ethically about Conflict in the Cyber Domain
Just War Theory and the Morality of Exceptions
Jus in Bello and Professional Military Ethics
Jus in Silico: Ethics and Just War Theory in the Cyber Domain

5. If Aristotle Waged Cyberwar: How Norms Emerge from Practice
Distinguishing between Laws and Norms
The Methodology of Uncertainty: How Do Norms “Emerge?”
Do Emergent Moral Norms Provide Effective Governance?

6. Privacy, Anonymity, and the Rise of State- Sponsored Hacktivism
Emergent Norms and the Rise of State- Sponsored Hacktivism
The Cunning of History
Permissible Preemptive Cyber Self- Defense
Privacy, Anonymity, and the Sectors of Vulnerability
Cyber security Measures for Individuals
Privacy versus Anonymity
A Limited Justification for Anonymity
Restricting Anonymity while Preserving Privacy
New “Rules of the Road” for Cyber Navigation

7. NSA Management Directive #424: Anticipatory National Self- Defense
Preventive War
Initial Public Response
The Dilemma of Edward Snowden
Government Deception and Public Trust
Defending National Boundaries And Personal Liberties
State Norms for Respecting Sovereignty and Attaining Security
Conclusion: Toward a Code of Ethics for Cyber Warriors

About the Author

Recently retired as the Distinguished Chair in Ethics in the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the United States Naval Academy, and as Professor of Ethics and Public Policy at the Graduate School of Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School, George Lucas is currently a Visiting Distinguished Research Professor at the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology & Values at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Anthropologists in Arms (Alta Mira, 2009) and Military Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2015).