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From International cyber law: interactive toolkit
Revision as of 16:41, 19 September 2021 by Uncleistvan1BBB (talk | contribs) (obsoleted incidents 4 through 8)
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Welcome to the Cyber Law Toolkit, an interactive online resource on international law and cyber operations.

Other resources

  • FAQ – Frequently asked questions about the project and the Toolkit.
  • All articles – Updated list of all substantive articles in the Toolkit. In a printed book, this would be the table of contents.
  • Keywords – Overview of all keywords used across the Toolkit content. Serves the same purpose as an index would in a printed book.
  • Legal concepts – Overview of all legal concepts from different branches of international law used across the Toolkit content.
  • Examples – List of real-world incidents that have inspired the analysis in the Toolkit.
  • National positions – List of publicly available national positions on the application of international law to cyber operations.
  • Glossary – Glossary of the technical terms used in the Toolkit.
  • Short form citation – Abbreviated references for the most commonly used citations in the Toolkit.
  • Bibliography – Bibliography of resources used in the creation and development of the Toolkit.
  • People – List of all people involved in the project (including scenario authors, peer reviewers, research assistants...).
Prior to the US midterm elections in 2018, the US Cyber Command implemented a new preventive strategy in order to protect the elections from foreign interference. According to the media reports, the strategy was aimed at preventing Russian individuals from engaging in concerted disinformation campaigns. The targeted individuals were informed that their work and online conduct would be surveilled by the US authorities. However, the US officials did not disclose the number of individuals they had contacted nor the method of transferring the warning to the operators concerned. Scenario 01 of the Toolkit analyses whether specific forms of electoral interference abroad violate rules of international law and scenario 06 considers whether the victim State may engage in countermeasures against an enabling State.

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IDF Hamas.png
In early May 2019, hostilities flared up again in the context of the armed conflict between Israel and Palestine. According to news reports, hundreds of rockets were fired on Israel, while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) answered with artillery and airstrikes. Remarkably, the Israeli response included also a kinetic attack allegedly aimed at countering a hostile cyber operation conducted by Hamas. In particular, the IDF announced on Twitter that it had “thwarted an attempted Hamas cyber offensive” and subsequently conducted an air strike against the Hamas Cyber Headquarters. The announcement has sparked a debate whether this operation sets a legal precedent from the perspective of international law. Within the Toolkit, Scenario 03 considers when a cyber operation may qualify as a use of force under international law and Scenario 12 analyses aspects of the law of targeting with respect to cyber operations.

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Huawei featured incident - cropped.png
In September 2019, Huawei released a media statement accusing the US government of “disrupting” Huawei’s business operations with “every tool at its disposal” including the launch of “cyber attacks to infiltrate Huawei's intranet and internal information systems”. The accusation came three days after a Wall Street Journal article which had reported about the US Department of Justice investigations into Huawei for alleged technology theft. In the Toolkit, Scenario 09 assesses the lawfulness of economic cyber espionage under international law. In addition, Scenario 05 considers the legal limits to the exercise of law enforcement by one State in response to malicious cyber operations from another.

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Turla featured incident - cropped.png
In October 2019, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US National Security Agency (NSA) issued a report on the activities of the hacker group Turla, suspected to be based in Russia. The report claimed that two malicious tools – previously identified as being used by Turla – were Iranian in origin. Allegedly, Turla was now using these tools independently to exploit them for its own intelligence aims. While the report acknowledged the difficulties of attributing cyber operations, it claimed that Turla had had access to Iranian tools and thus had most likely compromised Iran’s operational as well as command-and-control infrastructure. The tools have allegedly been used for espionage against foreign governments, most likely in the Middle East. Within the Toolkit, scenario 02 considers the legality of cyber espionage against government departments and scenario 07 considers the leak of State-developed hacking tools and their subsequent repurposing by malicious actors.

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On 20 June 2019, the US Cyber Command launched multiple cyber attacks disabling computer systems that controlled Iran’s rocket launchers and wiping out a critical database of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The attacks were reportedly a direct response to earlier attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the downing of an American surveillance drone after it had allegedly entered Iran’s airspace. Iran has denied all responsibility for the tanker attacks. The cyber attacks were conducted the same day that President Trump called off a military strike against Iran and were reportedly intended to remain below the threshold of armed conflict. The Toolkit considers whether specific cyber operations amount to uses of force in scenario 03 and scenario 14. Moreover, scenario 13 examines when cyber operations may trigger the application of international humanitarian law.