Daily Archives: March 25, 2013

Cyber Warfare: NATO Gets Serious

The Huffingtonpost.com blog has reported that the North American Treaty Organization “has released a ‘handbook’ to try [to] codify how international law applies to state-sponsored hacking, and its role in future wars.”

Just as the Geneva Convention has provided guidelines for conventional war fighting,  NATO’s cyber war law is designed to provide guidelines for cyber war fighting among nation states.

It reportedly contains some noteworthy provisions. It allows nations to respond to a cyber attack “that causes death or significant damage to property” with conventional weapons. It also provides that “An act of direct participation in hostilities by civilians renders them liable to be attacked, by cyber or other lawful means. Additionally, harm to direct participants is not considered when assessing the proportionality of an attack (Rule 51) or determining the precautions that must be taken to avoid harming civilians during military operations (Ruses 52 to 58).”

I think this means that a nation could respond to a cyber attack that causes property damage with missiles, tanks, military troops…and whatever. And it goes on to state that such an attack can be disproportionate to the damage of the cyber attack in its nature, ergo the use of missiles, tanks, military troops…and whatever.

It seems to address their knowledge of the seriousness of cyber war and  has the objective of putting current and future nation hacktivists or cyber warriors on notice that they will personally pay, possibly with their lives, for such an attack. Pretty serious business.

“The manual is not an official Nato document, and according to experts there is still no wide consensus on many aspects of how the law applies to online attacks.

The handbook was drawn up by Nato’s Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, who worked with 20 lawyers, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US Cyber Command.

The three-year project is the first full attempt to decide how international law applies to online conflict.

It was launched in 2008 after attacks on Estonia from hackers inside Russia caused damage to infrastructure.

The book includes 95 “black letter rules” detailing how states can carry out and respond to cyber attacks within the boundaries of international law.”

The bottom line here is that this kind of approach, while admittedly heavy-handed, may be the only approach to stopping the runaway lawlessness which is today’s Internet. Any cowboy geek with a computer and access to the Internet can easily break our laws steal our money. The next step should be that a similar approach be taken against cyber criminals who steal our money. I’m not suggesting they be nuked, but I am suggesting that they be pursued by law enforcement agencies with the same tactics and lawful ability as if an armed and dangerous criminal. We need to get serious about stopping the lawlessness; and saving the Internet.

Reference: Huffingtonpost article

Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.

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Filed under Cybercrime, Internet Security, security