• Ivana Damnjanović University of Belgrade - Faculty of Political Science


cyber-attacks, attribution, politics, retribution



In this paper the author aims to reconsider the problem of attribution of cyber-attacks, arguably one of the most important issues in cybersecurity, from the point of view of political science. The purpose is to show what are political aspects are involved in cyber-attacks and in the process of attribution and why they are important, from both academic and practical point of view.


Drawing from the notion developed by Rid and Buchanan (2015), that the process of attribution is a techno-political problem, this paper will, through three chapters, consider motivation of cyber-attacks as an important criterion for classification, political aspects of the attribution process as well as politically important relationship between attribution and possible retribution for cyber-attacks. Starting from qualitative analysis of recent scholarly literature as well as available data on politically motivated cyber-attacks, the author will then use methods of induction and deduction, analysis and synthesis, to form the conclusions.


The main findings of the paper are identification of political aspects of the attribution process and their consequences. Unlike research that uses cyber-security approach and focuses on technical issues, this paper identifies political actors and political issues emerging in the attribution process, as well as those political actors who are to make decisions on the follow-up actions after the process is completed.


While certain political aspects of the process of attribution of cyber-attacks have been considered in recent academic works, there seems to be no research focusing exclusively on this aspect, nor starting from the point of view of political science. Therefore, the originality of the proposed paper is both in its scope and its approach. Apart from scientific contribution, the value of the paper consists in production of tentative guidelines for state agencies tasked with dealing with the aftermath of cyber-attacks.


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