Digital Dictators: How Different Types of Authoritarian Regimes Use Cyber Attacks to Legitimize Their Rule

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Download adobe Acrobat or click here to download the PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file.


Babb, Casey




As states and populations around the world have become increasingly interconnected and dependent on digitized technologies and cyberspace, threat actors have been aggressively exploiting these changes to their own advantage. Of particular concern to academics, cyber experts and national security practitioners in the West, has been the rapid proliferation of damaging and disruptive cyber attacks carried out by state-actors - particularly authoritarian regimes - and their proxies. Despite global cyber attacks rising year by year, in terms of both frequency and level of technological ability, available data suggests most of the world's major cyber attacks are carried out by a relatively small handful of states. Furthermore, it appears as though these states tend to favour certain types of cyber attacks over others. This observation leads to the central research question of this dissertation: why do certain types of authoritarian regimes tend to favour certain types of cyber attacks over others? Taking a deductive approach, and drawing from existing theories on authoritarian legitimation and cyber conflict, I have developed a needs-based theory of authoritarian behaviour in cyberspace. More specifically, I suggest that different types of authoritarian regimes will use different cyber strategies to fulfil or service the process, strategy, or outcome they need most to maintain domestic support and legitimacy.


International Law and Relations
Political Science




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

International Affairs

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

Items in CURVE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. They are made available with permission from the author(s).