Investigating cyber conflict is enormously difficult. The domain is complex, quality data are sparse, international affairs are shrouded in secrecy, and despite its seeming ubiquity, cyber power has only recently entered the battlefield. In the face of these challenges, we must rise to meet the challenges of cybersecurity research by deploying creative methods that collect verifiable and probatory data, and which allow for predictive models of cyber behavior. Against this backdrop, our special issue offers a vision of cybersecurity research that embraces a culture of rigorous inquiry based on theoretically robust, and policy relevant investigation. We highlight two key features. First, research at the intersection of cybersecurity and political science must incorporate the human dimension of cyber conflict. A human security approach to cybersecurity places people as the primary objects of security and recognizes that individual-level analyses can shed light on macro-level trends. Second, cyber research must adopt rigorous, empirical methods. We embrace a broad tent of empirical data collection techniques – spanning qualitative and quantitative, experimental, and observational research. What is integral is that all scholarship abides by the highest standards of replicability and falsifiability. The articles contained in this special issue collectively form a proof of concept that expands the horizons of cybersecurity research from a substantive viewpoint (adding a human dimension to the prevalent military/strategic analyses), and from a methodological perspective (propounding the importance of empirical scrutiny). Together, these 10 pieces of scholarship collectively affirm that there is now a critical mass of substantively diverse and empirically rigorous research in the field of cybersecurity, and that we as a community are capable of making bold, theoretically grounded, and empirically tested claims that verify how cyber power is or is not altering the nature of peace, conflict and international relations.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.