Unpacking Cyberwar: The Sufficiency of the Law of Armed Conflict in the Cyber Domain
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC
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The term cyberwar is common in today s discussions of the national security challenges facing the United States and its allies. Understanding what law applies within the cyber domain is critical for all operational planners, whether or not they are directly involved in cyber operations. This article discusses the basics of how the Law of Armed Conflict LOAC affects cyber operations. It does not address the full spectrum of cyber operations, namely, defensive cyber operations and cyber exploitation espionage activities. The focus is offensive cyber operations and the efficacy of existing international law in governing the use of cyber capabilities. First, offensive cyber operations hereafter referred to as cyber operations are discussed generically as they pertain to military operations. Next, the triggering effects of certain activities rising to the level of use of force or armed attack are considered considered. Lastly, the article examines the law that applies to cyber activity during armed conflicts. In conclusion, the analysis of cyberwar reinforces the theory that although means and methods may change, the underlying rules regulating military operations adapt well to the evolution of warfare. Ultimately, the Law of Armed Conflict is sufficient to deal with the novel aspects of operations in the cyber domain.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics