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Warring from the virtual to the real: Assessing the public’s threshold for war over cyber security

  • Commission on Higher Education
  • 2022-03-25 09:18:10
  • 4360

Accusations of Russian hacking in the 2016 US presidential election has raised the salience of cyber security among the American public. However, there are still a number of unanswered questions about the circumstances under which particular policy responses are warranted in response to a cyber-attack and the public’s attitudes about the conditions that justify this range of responses. This research investigates the attributes of a cyber-attack that affect public support for retaliation. It finds that cyber-attacks that produce American casualties dramatically increase support for retaliatory airstrikes compared to attacks with economic consequences. Assessments of attribution that have bipartisan support increase support to a lesser extent but for a broader range of retaliatory measures. The findings have important implications for ongoing debates about cyber security policy.

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