Computer network attacks in the grey areas of jus ad bellum and jus in bello
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Baltic yearbook of international law, Vol. 9, 2009, p. 133-155
Both qualitatively and quantitatively the attacks perpetrated on Estonia's critical IT-systems in April and May 2007 were the largest of any known cyber attacks that have taken place in the world recently. Computer network attack (CNA) demands that military operations planners and high-ranking government officials take into account the following questions of jus ad bellum and jus in bello. For example, does a cyber attack constitute an armed attack under the UN Charter? Does there have to be physical damage to property or loss of life before a state can exercise the right of self-defense? Is the cyber attack a violation of criminal or international law? In what cases is there state responsibility for acts of individuals acting from its own territory? What could be the furture perspectives for the regulation of CNA? The purpose of this article is to provide a general assessment of the legal consequences of CNA according to jus ad bellum and jus in bello, mapping the problems encountered in both spheres of law upon the application of international law on CNA, and to suggest possible future perpectives for the regulation of CNA.