ACI Journal Articles


The Violence of Hacking: State Violence and Cyberspace

Document Type


USMA Research Unit Affiliation

Army Cyber Institute

Publication Date



The violence of bits and bytes is real. How can we conceive of violence in a digital world? Do traditional definitions provide a reasonable means to understand the impact of violence emanating from cyberspace? This work examines the concept of violence at the state level and builds and argument that violence is not confined to pre-digital static definitions. Like physical violence, cyber violence conducted by states is instrumental and constitutive of both physical and non-physical acts. These acts in combination facilitate state goals, specifically the potential to win wars or achieve related policy objectives. Cyber war is not your father’s war, but it has many of the same effects. What are the first, second and third order effects achievable in cyberspace? Are these effects conceptual or have they been demonstrated? What does and can state violence in cyberspace look like and why is it important?

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