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Cyberconflict

Updates

14 Feb 2017

Microsoft president and CLO Brad Smith has called for a Digital Geneva Convention, outlining six rules to be included, calling the current situation 'a growing problem in need of new solutions'. He called on both governments and the private sector to do more in the area of cybersecurity, and suggested that a trusted and neutral 'Digital Switzerland' could assist in this endeavour. This came alongside his presentation at the RSA conference in San Francisco on 14 February. In a similar, but unrelated post, Scott Shackelford, Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics, Indiana University, asks Should cybersecurity be a human right? Both posts emphasise the involvement of International and Digital Geneva as a centre for UN efforts to ensure global cybersecurity.

7 Feb 2017

UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on ICT and international security should pause the development of new norms and confidence building measures related to state behavour in cyberspace, and should instead focus on ensuring that the states implement the already defined ones, the US delegate to the UN GGE and deputy coordinator for cyber issues in the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Affairs at the US Department of State stated at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace event. Markoff also evaluated the US-Russia cyber-relations as a bright spot, and commented that Russia has not breached the agreed GGE norms in case of alleged cyber-attack against power grid in Ukraine since the norms apply in peacetime, rather than during the conflicts.

3 Feb 2017

Tallinn Manual 2.0, the updated and expanded second edition of "Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare", has been published by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) and the Cambridge University Press. Tallinn Manual, a NATO-funded research authored by independent group of international law experts and academics, is the comprehensive analysis of how existing international law applies to cyberspace. According to CCDCOE, the second edition brings the understanding that "cyber events do not occur in a legal vacuum and states both have rights and bear obligations under international law" and "covers a full spectrum of international law applicable to cyber operations ranging from peacetime legal regimes to the law of armed conflict, covering a wide array of international law principles and regimes that regulate events in cyberspace". The copy of the Tallinn Manual 2.0 can be ordered here.

Pages

Cyber-attacks can have a background in international relations, or bring about the consequences that can escalate to a political and diplomatic level. An increasing number of states appear to be developing their own cyber-tools for the defense, offence and intelligence related to cyberconflict.

The use of cyber-weapons by states - and, more generally, the behavior of states in cyberspace in relation to maintaining international peace and security - is moving to the top of the international agenda.

 

Dealing with cyberconflicts as policy issue is in an early stage, with some early agreements related to the implementation of the existing international law to cyberspace and drafts of the norms and confidence building measures.

The complex nature of cyberconflict

The traditional forms of war are well known. There is established international law that regulates the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects, such as the Geneva Convention which protects those who are not a part of the fighting. The rules of war, however, are different from the possible event of interstate cyber-conflicts, which are still not well defined.

A major characteristics of the cyberconflict is an almost impossible attribution of the attack even to a certain users, let alone to sponsorship by any state, due to the very complex and sophisticated weapons used which are able to work through a number of proxy layers (including botnets). Another difference between a traditional war and a possible cyberwar, however, exists in the scale: cyber-incidents do not take place between two nations while other countries silently watch. The Internet is a global resource and the cyberweapons, such as botnets, will employ the computing resources of other nations, making cyberwarfare effectively global. It is, therefore, reasonable to understand that the issues of cyber-conflicts and cyberwarfare belong to the Internet governance area and should be debated along with other security threats.

In 2013, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), prepared the Tallinn Manual elaborating on the implementation of the existing international humanitarian law on entering and conducting a war (jus ad bellum and jus in bello) in cyberspace. One attempt by academics and non-state actors to draft an international agreement is that of the Stanford Draft Convention on Protection from Cyber Crime and Terrorism. This draft recommends the establishment of an international body, named the Agency for Information Infrastructure Protection (AIIP). The UN Governmental Group of Experts has confirmed, in 2013, that the existing international law applies to cyberspace, but is yet to discuss on how it applies in practice. The OSCE has developed the Confidence Building Measures to enhance cooperation and prevent cyber-conflicts.

Events

Instruments

Conventions

Resolutions & Declarations

Wuzhen World Internet Conference Declaration (2015)

Other Instruments

2013 Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (2013)
2015 Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (2015)

Resources

International Cybersecurity Norms (2016)

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Papers

From Articulation to Implementation: Enabling Progress on Cybersecurity Norms (2016)
International Cybersecurity Norms. Reducing Conflict in an Internet-dependent World (2014)

Reports

Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation (2017)
Hostile Drones: The Hostile Use of Drones by Non-State Actors against British Targets (2016)
National Security Implications of Virtual Currency. Examining the Potential for Non-state Actor Deployment (2015)

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