News By/Courtesy: Amrit Verma | 15 Dec 2023 12:02pm IST


  • As per a recent study, a surge of 38% has been recorded in cybercrimes globally in 2022 as compared to 2021.
  • International law does not have specific provisions on cybersecurity.
  • The cybercrime across the globe is on the rise.

Analysis of the Legality of Cyber Warfare under International Law • As per a recent study, a surge of 38% has been recorded in cybercrimes globally in 2022 as compared to 2021. • International law does not have specific provisions on cybersecurity. In the modern era, the conflicts among the nations have transcended physical battlefields including the cyber realm. As nations around the globe increasingly harness the power of technology, the questions surrounding the legality of cyber warfare under international law have gained recognition. Examining this complex issue reveals certain nuances and challenges inherent in regulating the digital arena conflict. Cyber warfare involves using technology to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems and networks of enemy nations. Unlike traditional warfare, which operates within certain geographical limits, the borderless nature of the digital sphere complicates the application of existing international laws. The advancement in technological aspects has made it difficult for the states to deal with such crimes. However, international organizations are fighting this battle at the forefront. The concepts of cybercrimes and cyber warfare have recently evolved. Under international law, the principles guiding the conflicts are primarily found in the Geneva Conventions and Hague Conventions. These conventions have frameworks that outline the rules to protect civilians, prisoners of war, and soldiers. However, these rules could not be applied to cyber-warfare since clear definitions and precedents are not present. One basic aspect of cyber warfare legality that is mostly debated is the classification of cyberattacks. Determining whether an attack constitutes an act of war or falls under a different category, remains a significant challenge for international law experts. This ambiguous status of classification of cyberattacks creates uncertainty in defining appropriate responses and the application of international laws during cyber wars or cyberattacks. Steps Taken by States Many states have made attempts to address and solve these challenges. Some states have made suggestions for the development of new treaties while some advocated for the amendments in the current treaties only. The “Tallinn Manual”, a non-binding document formed by legal experts, attempts to explain how international law applies to cyber conflicts. Each state has different technological capacities and capabilities which makes it difficult for the states to reach a consensus on comprehensive regulations related to cyber laws. This remains a struggle among nations with varying interests and technological capabilities. Moreover, the United Nations (UN) has been active in discussions regarding cyber warfare. The “UN Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE)” has been exploring ways to improve the application of international law in cyberspace. These discussions aim to establish norms and principles to govern state behaviour in cyberspace, endorsing stability and reducing the risk of conflicts. Despite these efforts, differences persist in effectively addressing the legality of cyber warfare. The rapid development of technology outpaces the expansion of international legal frameworks. Additionally, differing interpretations of existing laws among nations and the unwillingness to disclose capabilities for fear of vulnerability further complicate the regulation of cyber activities. The States and world leaders need to think about the formation of international laws that resonate with the cyberattacks and cyber crimes happening around the world. These crimes and criminals are dealt with by the local laws of the destination country. However, there is an urgency to create or frame an international legal framework for cybersecurity. The absence of international laws related to this topic is a defence that is used by criminals and associated States. Multiple instances of cyberattacks and cyber threats have been taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as well. However, nothing concrete has evolved yet. This matter needs to be addressed by framing an international legal framework to save the States from such threats.

Section Editor: Harshita Kumari | 07 Apr 2024 23:29pm IST

Tags : International News

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