A Beginner's Guide to the Musical Scales of Cyberwar

8 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2017 Last revised: 2 Aug 2019

Date Written: December 28, 2016


This article is a beginner's guide to the 'musical scales' of cyberwar. Using the analogy of a piano keyboard, it aims to promote an understanding of what constitutes a use of force in cyberspace and how a state may lawfully respond. To help achieve this, the article utilizes the concept of Middle C and musical intervals known as octaves to explain the range of permissible state conduct during times of conflict. By juxtaposing the law of war with a keyboard, the process of how states evaluate the scale and effects of a cyber operation, and determine a basis for resorting to a use of force under the Law of Armed Conflict, can be more readily conceptualized. And if music is indeed, the universal language of mankind, then by encouraging society to learn about the law of war, we can collectively better strategize ways to mitigate conflict in this domain.

Keywords: war, cyber, conflict, law of war, law, international relations, society, cyberwar, use of force, violence, music

Suggested Citation

Malekos Smith, Jessica Zhanna, A Beginner's Guide to the Musical Scales of Cyberwar (December 28, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941035 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2941035

Jessica Zhanna Malekos Smith (Contact Author)

Duke Law School ( email )

210 Science Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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