Cyberwarfare is a novel concept and will greatly affect the future of war, by both state and non-state actors. Traditional notions of warfare do not readily transfer to the cyber world and yet there must be some rules which apply. The United States, along with experts from around the globe, concluded that the traditional laws of armed conflict apply in cyberspace just as they do in the physical world. The
The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, though not an official document, is a seminal, comprehensive study of international law examining how “extant international legal norms apply to this â€˜newâ€™ form of warfare.” (quote from CCDCOE website). The experts who wrote the manual identified the generally applicable international law to guide cyber conflict. This manual addresses the “armed” cyber attack. Tallinn 2.0 is due to be published in 2016 and will examine the international legal framework that applies to malevolent cyber operations that do not rise to the level of “armed attacks.”
Because the world of cyber is uniquely borderless, asymmetric, and distributed, applying international humanitarian law presents unique challenges. While there is agreement that traditional laws apply, what that will actually look like remains unsettled.
- International Law and Cyber Threats from Non-State Actors by Laurie Blank (Links to an external site.)
Based upon your reading, consider the following: Under international law, killing an armed combatant in a war is not murder. Who, though, is a cyber combatant? Is a civilian hacker a combatant? An armed combatant? What if the civilian hacker works for a non-military agency with intelligence functions? What are the repercussions of calling such a civilian an armed combatant? What are the repercussions if they are not?
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