The ambiguities of cyber security

Offence and the human factor

Authored by: James Gow

Routledge Handbook of War, Law and Technology

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138084551
eBook ISBN: 9781315111759
Adobe ISBN:


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In the summer of 2018, the insurance industry began to acknowledge a new reality. Perhaps two years before that, at the earliest, it did not recognise cyber terrorism. Prior to the 2017–18 period, when change emerged, if a terrorist organisation blew up a building using a conventional explosive, the building would have been covered by the owner’s terrorism insurance. But, if the terrorists had blown up the building by hacking into it and causing it to blow up by cyber means, that was not covered. Each incident would have been a blow struck by an armed political-military movement, but only one of them would be recognised as such. By June 2018, it was evident that insurers had shifted their ground and recognised that cyber attacks had to be covered – even if there were still uncertainties about whether cover should only be restricted to consequences involving physical damage. 1 This is an example of how the whole world is trying to come to terms with this new technology and the issues to which it gives rise. Slowly, understanding was emerging that cyber attacks had to be understood to be a part of conflict spectrum in contemporary warfare.

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