Authored by: Dunn Cavelty Myriam

The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  November  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415463614
eBook ISBN: 9780203866764
Adobe ISBN: 9781135239077


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Over the past decade, many public figures have portrayed attacks by means of computers – so called cyber-threats – as one of the gravest threats to national security today (cf. Poulsen 1999; Porteus 2001). What is remarkable about this threat representation is that while viruses, worms or cyber-crime are an undisputed and everyday reality, major disruptive cyber-attacks with grave impact, which would substantiate such reasoning, have remained mere chimeras. This raises at least two questions: first, why this threat representation has gained so much salience and continues to occupy such a prominent position among ‘new threats’ (as many of the post-Cold War threats are called); and second, to what extent the continued treatment of cyber-threats as a national security issue of highest priority is justified.

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