School of Computing

Nov 8, 2019
11:00 - 12:00
Constructing the Cyberterrorist: Lessons from the UK and EU Cases
School of Computing - Security Group Seminar
Speaker: Dr Gareth Mott, University of Kent


Cyberterrorism has not occurred. Furthermore, the definition parameters of cyberterrorism have not been conclusively defined by either policymakers or academia. However, in 2010 the threat posed by the terrorist application of cyber weaponry to target British critical national infrastructure became a 'Tier One' threat to the UK. This seminar draws on the analyses and findings of a single-authored forthcoming (2019) book with Routledge's Critical Terrorism Studies series, and an in-progress co-authored journal article intended for submission to the European Security journal. By applying an interpretive discourse analysis, these pieces identify 'strands' from a comprehensive corpus of policy documents, statements and speeches from Ministers, MPs, Peers, MEPs and officials. The research examines how the threat of cyberterrorism was constructed in the UK as a state and the EU as an institution, and what this securitisation has made possible. In addition, the research makes novel contributions to our understanding(s) of both post-Copenhagen securitisation theory and the role that popular fictional narratives can play in security politics. It is identified that the 2010 British Coalition Government's classification of cyberterrorism as a 'Tier One' threat created a central strand upon which a discursive securitisation was established. Despite the absence of a 'cyberterrorist' incident across the period under scrutiny, the securitisation did not recede; indeed, the threat was deemed to be escalating. A notable finding is the positioning of the securitisation against a particular 'cyberterrorist' identity epitomised by social actors using cyberspace, rather than the tangible environments of cyberspace.


Dr Gareth Mott graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a PhD in International Security (2015-2018). Before that, he received an MA in International Security and BA in International Relations and Modern History at the University of East Anglia (2010-2014). Between January 2018 and the summer of 2019, he was a lecturer in International Relations at Nottingham Trent University. As a lecturer in Security and Intelligence at the University of Kent, Gareth is based at both the department of Politics and International Relations and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Cyber Security and Conflict (SoCyETAL). Gareth is particularly interested in the 'Politics of Cyber Security', 'Critical Security Studies' and 'Critical Terrorism Studies'. He has published on, and is proactively researching: the discursive construction of threatening and protective identities in cyberspace; the security and wider implications of Blockchain and other peer-to-peer technologies; and the governance architectures of 21st century communicative technologies.


Cornwallis South West,
University of Kent,
United Kingdom


Open to everyone, especially those interested in cyber security research,


Contact: Jason R.C. Nurse

School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

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Last Updated: 14/08/2015