At its current rate, technological development has outpaced corresponding changes in international law. Proposals to remedy this deficiency have been made, in part, by members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (led by the Russian Federation), but the United States and select allies have rejected these proposals, arguing that existing international law already provides a suitable comprehensive framework necessary to tackle cyber-warfare. Cyber-Attacks and the Exploitable Imperfections of International Law does not contest (and, in fact, supports) the idea that contemporary jus ad bellum and jus in bello, in general, can accommodate cyber-warfare. However, this analysis argues that existing international law contains significant imperfections that can be exploited; gaps, not yet filled, that fail to address future risks posed by cyber-attacks.
In September 2010, media reports emerged about a new form of cyber attack that appeared to target Iran, although the actual target, if any, is unknown. Through the use of thumb drives in computers that were not connected to the Internet, a malicious software program known as Stuxnet infected computer systems that were used to control the functioning of a nuclear power plant. Once inside the system, Stuxnet had the ability to degrade or destroy the software on which it operated. Although early reports focused on the impact on facilities in Iran, researchers discovered that the program had spread throughout multiple countries worldwide.
From the perspective of many national security and technology observers, the emergence of the Stuxnet worm is the type of risk that threatens to cause harm to many activities deemed critical to the basic functioning of modern society. The Stuxnet worm covertly attempts to identify and exploit equipment that controls a nation’s critical infrastructure. A successful attack by a software application such as the Stuxnet worm could result in manipulation of control system code to the point of inoperability or long-term damage. Should such an incident occur, recovery from the damage to the computer systems programmed to monitor and manage a facility and the physical equipment producing goods or services could be significantly delayed. Depending on the severity of the attack, the interconnected nature of the affected critical infrastructure facilities, and government preparation and response plans, entities and individuals relying on these facilities could be without life sustaining or comforting services for a long period of time. The resulting damage to the nation’s critical infrastructure could threaten many aspects of life, including the government’s ability to safeguard national security interests.
Iranian officials have claimed that Stuxnet caused only minor damage to its nuclear program, yet the potential impact of this type of malicious software could be far-reaching. The discovery of the Stuxnet worm has raised several issues for Congress, including the effect on national security, what the government’s response should be, whether an international treaty to curb the use of malicious software is necessary, and how such a treaty could be implemented. Congress may also consider the government’s role in protecting critical infrastructure and whether new authorities may be required for oversight.
The product of a three-year project by twenty renowned international law scholars and practitioners, the Tallinn Manual identifies the international law applicable to cyber warfare and sets out ninety-five 'black-letter rules' governing such conflicts. It addresses topics including sovereignty, State responsibility, the jus ad bellum, international humanitarian law, and the law of neutrality. An extensive commentary accompanies each rule, which sets forth the rule's basis in treaty and customary law, explains how the group of experts interpreted applicable norms in the cyber context, and outlines any disagreements within the group as to each rule's application.
The information revolution has transformed both modern societies and the way in which they conduct warfare. Cyberwar and the Laws of War analyses the status of computer network attacks in international law and examines their treatment under the laws of armed conflict. The first part of the book deals with the resort to force by states and discusses the threshold issues of force and armed attack by examining the permitted responses against such attacks. The second part offers a comprehensive analysis of the applicability of international humanitarian law to computer network attacks. By examining the legal framework regulating these attacks, Heather Harrison Dinniss addresses the issues associated with this method of attack in terms of the current law and explores the underlying debates which are shaping the modern laws applicable in armed conflict.
This timely Research Handbook contains an analysis by leading scholars and practitioners of various legal questions concerning cyberspace and cyber activities. Comprehensive and thorough, it succeeds in mapping out the range of international rules that apply to cyberspace and to specific cyber activities, assesses their regulatory efficacy and offers insightful suggestions, where necessary, for revised standards.
Contributors examine the application of fundamental international law principles to cyberspace such as the principle of sovereignty, jurisdiction, state responsibility, individual criminal responsibility, human rights and intellectual property rights. They explore the application of international rules to cyber terrorism, cyber espionage, cyber crime, cyber attacks and to cyber war. They deal with the meaning of cyber operations, the ethics of cyber operations as well as with cyber deterrence. Finally, they comment on the cyber security policies of international and regional institutions such as those of the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and of Asian-Pacific institutions.
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