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When the computers or networks of a State are attacked, infiltrated or blocked, there may be a risk of civilians being deprived of basic essentials such as drinking water, medical care and electricity. If GPS systems are paralysed, there may be a risk of civilian casualties occurring — for example, through disruption to the flight operations of rescue helicopters that save lives.
Dams, nuclear plants and aircraft control systems, because of their reliance on computers, are also vulnerable to cyber attack. Networks are so interconnected that it may be difficult to limit the effects of an attack against one part of the system without damaging others or disrupting the whole system.
The well-being, health and even lives of hundreds of thousands of people could be affected. Wars have rules and limits, which apply just as much to the use of cyber warfare as to the use of rifles, artillery and missiles. We welcome the fact that experts are thinking about the consequences of cyber warfare and the law applicable to it. The use of cyber operations in armed conflict can potentially have devastating humanitarian consequences.
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For the ICRC, it is crucial to identify ways of limiting the humanitarian cost of cyber operations and, in particular, to reaffirm the relevance of IHL to this new technology when used in armed conflict. This is precisely what the experts say in the Tallinn Manual. Means and methods of war evolve over time, and are clearly not the same as the ones available when the Geneva Conventions were drafted in ; but IHL continues to apply to all activities conducted by parties in the course of armed conflict, and must be respected. It cannot be ruled out, however, that there might be a need to develop the law further to ensure it provides sufficient protection to the civilian population, as cyber technologies evolve or their humanitarian impact is better understood.
That will have to be determined by States. While the Tallinn Manual is a non-binding document prepared by a group of experts, we certainly hope that it can usefully contribute to further discussion among States on these challenging issues, and that States and non-State armed groups will ensure that any use of cyber operations in armed conflict will be in accordance with their international obligations. There is currently much debate about how international law, including IHL, should be interpreted and how it should apply to State and non-State activities occurring in cyberspace.
This does not mean that IHL applies to any cyber operation or to all those that are often called "cyber attacks" in common parlance: IHL does not regulate cyber operations that fall outside a situation of armed conflict. Business corporations and governments are as much concerned by cyber espionage, cyber crimes, and other malicious cyber activity as they are by cyber attacks that would fall under IHL.
The technical means of protecting cyber infrastructure from espionage or from an attack might be similar, but the law governing these operations is not. One of the key issues is therefore to identify the circumstances in which cyber operations may be regarded as occurring in the course of armed conflict, or giving rise to armed conflict in and of themselves, such that IHL would apply. The Tallinn Manual offers interesting perspectives in this respect.
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For example, it upholds the classical dichotomy between international and non-international armed conflicts, and recognizes that cyber operations alone may constitute armed conflicts depending on the circumstances — notably on the destructive effects of such operations. In this regard, the manual defines a "cyber attack" under IHL as "a cyber operation, whether offensive or defensive, that is reasonably expected to cause injury or death to persons or damage or destruction to objects. After intense discussion, the majority of the experts agreed that beside physical damage, loss of functionality of an object may also constitute damage.
The ICRC's view is that if an object is disabled, it is immaterial how this occurred, whether through kinetic means or a cyber operation.
This issue is very important in practice, as, otherwise, a cyber operation aimed at making a civilian network dysfunctional would not be covered by the IHL prohibition on targeting directly civilian persons and objects. The ICRC contributed, as an observer, to the discussions of the experts who drafted the Tallinn Manual in order to ensure that it reflects as far as possible existing IHL and to uphold the protection this body of law affords to the victims of armed conflicts.
The 95 rules set forth in the manual reflect text on which it was possible to achieve consensus among the experts. We are an independent research effort. Our mission is to build and broaden the evidence base available to scholars, policy makers, and others. We aim to educate and inform.
Cyber Consequences Unit Independent, non-profit research group.
What limits does the law of war impose on cyber attacks?
Military Academy Cyber research Center. United States Cyber Command U. United States Cyber Strategy U. Cyberspace and National Security Muir S. Cybercrime Council of Europe.
Cybersecurity Council on Foreign Relations. This web page lists articles and analyses published by CFR on the topic as from A list of significant cyber events since Cyber Defence Awareness e-Learning course available for free but registration is required. To acquire an account, please write to "portal -at- ccdcoe. The aim of the project is to offer a comprehensive overview of existing national cyber security organisation models. The study offers a series of country profiles, outlining national cyber security management structures.
Each report in the series takes a detailed look at how the cyber domain is approached in a specific nation. The reports outline the division of cyber security tasks and responsibilities between different agencies; describe their mandate, tasks and competence, as well as coordination among them. While offering a concise overview of strategic national approach to cyber security, the reports also include a summary of the national information society and e-government initiatives. The selection of countries covered will be expanded through The studies can be accessed at http: Army Cyber Command brings Army cyber resources under a single command.
On October 1st, , the U. Army activated Army Cyber Command, 2nd Army.
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This represents the next evolutionary step in U. National Security Agency , April First issue is published in March Times Topics New York Times. Is it Safe to Download? The interactive Cyber Norms Index tool is based on documents released by governments since It compares existing international expressions of standards of appropriate behavior in cyberspace. This search tool enables the user to compare specific language in multilateral outcome documents either by category or keyword.