Computer network attacks under the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello : Distinction, proportionality, ambiguity and attribution
Elaine Korzak and James Gow
Routledge handbook of war, law and technology
New York : Routledge, 2019
The emergence of computer network attacks (CNA) raises a number of issues in the application of two fundamental principles of international humanitarian law: distinction and proportionality. Applying the principle in the context of CNA does not change the requirements. Obviously, military command, control and communication networks, as well as military air defence networks would equally qualify. Ninety-eight percent of United States government communications, for example, travel through civilian-owned, or civilian-operated, networks. At a minimum, given the interconnectedness of computer networks and the dual-use character of information systems, proportionality plays an even more significant role in the protection of civilians than the principle of distinction. CNA that do not result in violent consequences could be employed regardless of distinction and proportionality – or, perhaps better, because the prevailing interpretations of these principles would render such attacks legitimate.