Cyber attacks, defence and security are increasingly high on the agenda of legal, policy and technology discussions. Indeed, cyber threats evolve rapidly and concerns are mounting over the use of hostile cyber operations and the potential risk for escalation. Recent years have seen a number of cyber significant cyber operations destroying data, disrupting the delivery of essential services to the population, and some aimed at causing physical damage. Addressing the risks and consequences of hostile cyber operations cost billions to governments and the private sector.

Cyber military operations are part of today’s armed conflicts. While some States have acknowledged publicly that they have used cyber means in support of their military operations, others have developed—or are developing—cyber military capacities. Amidst this buzz around cyber operations and warfare, key questions around the applicability and application of IHL are often left unclear. What kind of cyber operations are likely to cause physical destruction and harm to humans? Can cyber operations be targeted at specific objects? How does malware spread from the targeted computer system to others, and is it possible to avoid the spreading of malware? Why is it so difficult to attribute a cyber attack to its author? What challenges does the use of cyber means and methods of warfare pose to fundamental IHL principles, such as the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution?

This blog series presents expert views on some of these questions.

Stay tuned for the upcoming posts: