Cyberattacks should be included in international humanitarian law

The seriousness of cyberattacks is such that it should be included in international humanitarian law, a new report from the Global Commission on Internet Governance has said.

The paper, titled One Internet, said that the most dangerous cyberweapons that can be employed by a state need to be better understood and used in full consideration of, for example, the Geneva Conventions.

According to the authors of the report, such is the interconnectedness of “devices and economies” that the potential fallout from a government-initiated cyberattack could be huge.

“Governments should employ cyberweapons only as a last resort, and then only after having first applied the legal principles of necessity, proportionality and of minimizing the risks of collateral damage,” the report outlined.

The paper was clear in its recommendation that countries work more closely with one another in tackling cyberattacks, which show contempt for “border and geopolitical jurisdictions”.

As the threat is global in nature, nations will benefit from the sharing of information, which is easier said than done as “there is currently a trust deficit between the world’s major cyberpowers”.

Nevertheless, this collaborative and transparent approach would help speed up response times to major attacks, and ensure that the right organizations are tasked with resolving incidents in as efficient a manner as possible.

The commission said: “States should undertake confidence-building exercises in order to help foster trust between nations.”

The Geneva Conventions are described by the International Committee of the Red Cross as being at the centre of international humanitarian law.

Collectively it “regulates the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects”, especially on those who are not directly involved in hostilities.

A digital dimension to this reflects the changing nature of warfare, highlighting how devastating cyberattacks can be on individuals and nations.

Author , We Live Security

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