Cyber security and the Leviathan

Joseph Da Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dedicated cyber-security functions are common in commercial businesses, who are confronted by evolving and pervasive threats of data breaches and other perilous security events. Such businesses are enmeshed with the wider societies in which they operate. Using data gathered from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 15 Chief Information Security Officers, as well as six senior organisational leaders, we show that the work of political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, particularly Leviathan, offers a useful lens through which to understand the context of these functions and of cyber security in Western society. Our findings indicate that cyber security within these businesses demonstrates a number of Hobbesian features that are further implicated in, and provide significant benefits to, the wider Leviathan-esque state. These include the normalisation of intrusive controls, such as surveillance, and the stimulation of consumption. We conclude by suggesting implications for cyber-security practitioners, in particular, the reflexivity that these perspectives offer, as well as for businesses and other researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102674
JournalComputers and Security
Early online date8 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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