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Public Policy and Administration


Linda Day


The ever-growing interconnectivity of industry and infrastructure through cyberspace has increased their vulnerability to cyber attack. The lack of any formal codification of cyber warfare has led to the development of contradictory state practices and disagreement as to the legal standing of cyber warfare, resulting in an increased risk of damage to property and loss of life. Using the just war theory as a foundation, the research questions asked at the point at which cyber attacks meet the definition of use of force or armed attack under international law and what impediments currently exist in the development of legal limitations on cyber warfare. The research design was based on using the Delphi technique with 18 scholars in the fields of cyber warfare and international law for 3 rounds of questioning to reach a consensus of opinion. The study employed qualitative content analysis of survey questions during the first round of inquiry in order to create the questions for the 2 subsequent rounds. The first round of inquiry consisted of a questionnaire composed of 9 open-ended questions. These data were inductively coded to identify themes for the subsequent questionnaires that consisted of 42 questions that allowed the participants to rank their responses on a Likert-type scale and contextualize them using written responses. Participants agreed that a computer attack is comparable to the use of force or armed attack under international law, but fell short of clearly defining the legal boundaries of cyber warfare. This study contributes to social change by providing informed opinions by experts about necessary legal reforms and, therefore, provides a basis for greater legal protections for life and property.