CPU and Keyboard: Weapons of Mass Disruption?

  • Sigmar StadlmeierEmail author


In a well-known paper on legal issues of computers and war Schmitt and others reminded their readers of the very basic fact that the “warriors” in computer wars would simply be “individuals armed with CPUs and keyboards”. However, a few years later during a press conference in May 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama referred to instruments of cyber warfare as “weapons of mass disruption”, obviously paraphrasing the well-known term of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and having in mind the catastrophic consequences a coordinated attack on critical infrastructure could trigger. This paper primarily seeks to give an overview of the legal issues raised and investigate whether and to which extent cyber warfare operations fall in line with a trend of dehumanisation of warfare in the sense of reducing the human role or component in warfare. Given the limited size many basic legal questions of cyber warfare will be touched upon but not discussed in detail.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Public International Law, Air Law and International RelationsJohannes Kepler University LinzLinzAustria

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