Author Biography

John J. Klein is a Senior Fellow at Falcon Research in Northern Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. in politics, with a strategic studies focus, from the University of Reading and a master's in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College, where he was a Mahan Scholar. He previously served as a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution in its Foreign Policy Studies program. Dr. Klein writes frequently on national policy, military strategy, and the implications of the Law of Armed Conflict. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Falcon Research or those of the United States Government. The author may be reached at: john.j.klein@Falcon-Research.com.



Subject Area Keywords

Al-Qaida, Asymmetric warfare, Counterterrorism, Cybersecurity, International law, National security, Nonstate actors, Security studies, Terrorism / counterterrorism, Violent extremism


Cyberterrorism, while being written about since the early 2000s, is still not fully understood as a strategic concept and whether such actions can be deterred is hotly contested. Some strategists and policy makers believe that acts of cyberterrorism, especially by non-state actors, may prove to be undeterrable. Yet the leadership of both state and non-state actors tend to act rationally and function strategically, and therefore they can, in fact, be deterred to some degree. Helping to shape the legitimate options following a significant cyberattack, the Law of Armed Conflict has salient considerations for the deterrence of cyberterrorism, particularly the principles of military necessity and lawful targeting. Furthermore, when considered holistically and using all available means, deterrence combined with dissuasion activities can lessen the likelihood of cyberterrorism, while mitigating any consequences should such a cyberattack actually occur.