Security and New Cyber Challenges

Course content

New cyber challenges like disinformation, ‘fake news’, ‘deep fakes’ destructive algorithms and the practice of ‘micro-targeting’ have recently emerged as security problems in need of urgent attention. What all these threats have in common is that they spread through global technologies and have the potential to affect democratic publics worldwide. How can we make sense of such threats, how should they be countered, and by whom?


This course introduces students to a broad set of new cyber threats and the political challenges arising from providing security in relation to such threats. The purpose is to encourage students to critically reflect upon the conceptualizations guiding the contemporary debate about security, the possible democratic consequences of proposed policy and the different securitizing actors involved – from global internet companies to state actors, military and intelligence professionals and individual citizens.


First, the course will introduce the students to a broad range of literature on new cyber challenges: from popular narratives to security policy and research publications. The focus of these lectures will be the link between various threat descriptions, securitizing actors and suggested remedies. The overall goal is to give students insight into the emerging threat landscape and open up for critical reflection about the interplay between new technologies, security and democratic life. In this part of the course, students work in groups and are expected to take on the role of actor (private or public) and produce a set of recommendations in relation to a specific threat. Examples of such roles could be a communicator for a global corporation, an internet or media professional, an intelligence analyst or a state official. The examination consists of a role playing session and one policy paper.


In the second part of the course, students are introduced to theoretical literature on the changing conceptions of security and the democratic problems inherent in countering new cyber threats. During the lectures, and in a longer individual essay, they will be asked to reflect and theorize about current developments. What elements of this threat, if any, are new? How do these cyber challenges, and the way they are managed, affect our understanding of security? What political visions are embedded in proposed policy recommendations?


Security Risk Management

Political Science students: Limited intake

SRM students has priority

Learning outcome


Students will have knowledge about new international threats, as well as trends, that shape and reshape the security environment. Developing on this, students will understand how new global developments affect businesses, organisations, institutions and states



Students will retain the ability to analyse and reflect upon new threat perceptions and global developments and, on that background, evaluate the political and organisational impact on public, as well as private, organisations/companies.



Students will be able to analyse the relationship between new developments in global politics and concrete risk management processes and, based on these analyses, identify new organisational trends and solutions.

The course will use lectures, seminars, a role playing session and written assignments.

Bjola, C., 2018. The ethics of countering digital propaganda. Ethics & international affairs, 32 (3), 305–315.


Cole, A and Le Guyander, H. 2020. Cognitive warfare: a 6th domain of operations. NATO Innovationhub [pdf] available at:


de Ruiter, Adrienne. 2021. "The Distinct Wrong of Deepfakes." Philosophy & Technology: 1-22.


Deibert, Ronald J. 2020. ‘Reset. Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society’, House of Anansi Press


Demchak, C.C., and Dombrowski, P. 2013. ‘Cyber Westphalia: Asserting State Prerogatives in Cyberspace.’ Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 29–38.


European Commission, 2018. EU action plan on disinformation.


Golovchenko, Yevgeniy, Mareike Hartmann, and Rebecca Adler-Nissen. "State, media and civil society in the information warfare over Ukraine: citizen curators of digital disinformation." International Affairs 94.5 (2018): 975-994.


Hellman, M., & Wagnsson, C. (2017). How can European states respond to Russian information warfare? An analytical framework. European Security, 26(2), 153-170.


Jens Ohlin, Election Interference: International Law and the Future of Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)


Kate Jones, “Online Disinformation and Political Discourse: Applying a Human Rights Framework,” Chatham House, 2019, 37,


Mercier, H. (2020). Not born yesterday. Princeton University Press.


Milton L Mueller, Against Sovereignty in Cyberspace, International Studies Review, Volume 22, Issue 4, December 2020, Pages 779–801.


Norberg, H. 2021. 'The Game Stop controversy and its lessons for NATO Cognitive Warfare'. NATO Innovationhub [pdf] https://www.innovationhub-


Omand, D. (2018). The threats from modern digital subversion and sedition. Journal of Cyber Policy, 3(1), 5-23.


Pamment, J., Nothhaft, H., Agardh-Twetman, H., and Fjällhed, A. 2018. ‘The role of communicators in countering the malicious use of social media’, Riga: NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence


Pherson, Randolph H., Penelope Mort Ranta, and Casey Cannon. "Strategies for Combating the Scourge of Digital Disinformation." International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence 34.2 (2021): 316-341.


Schmitt M. N., ed. 2013. Tallinn Manual on International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press .


Zuboff, S. 2019. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. Public Affairs.


Ördén, Hedvig. "Deferring substance: EU policy and the information threat." Intelligence and National Security 34.3 (2019): 421-437.

The course is envisaged as an elective course on the SRM program and students need to have taken the core courses given during the first semester

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Criteria for exam assesment

  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Study Board for Security Risk Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Hedvig Terése Ördén   (4-6c697376446d6a77326f7932686f)
Saved on the 25-05-2022

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