Editing Scenario 06: Cyber countermeasures against an enabling State

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[[File:Hacker2.jpg|thumb|]] <!-- CC0 Creative Commons Free for commercial use No attribution required https://pixabay.com/en/hacker-cyber-crime-security-1952027/ -->
[[File:Hacker2.jpg|thumb|© NicoElNino. Licensed from Shutterstock.|alt=]] A country believed to possess highly developed cyber capabilities repeatedly fails to assist other States in countering cyber attacks emanating from its territory. After yet another malicious cyber operation from the former State’s territory results in numerous casualties abroad, the said State comes under a large-scale DDoS attack. The scenario considers the international obligation of due diligence in the cyber context and the ability of States to take countermeasures in response to violations of that obligation.
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A country believed to possess highly developed cyber capabilities repeatedly fails to assist other States in countering cyber attacks emanating from its territory. After yet another malicious cyber operation from the former State’s territory results in a significant loss of life abroad, the State comes under a large-scale DDoS attack. The scenario considers the international obligation of due diligence in the cyber context and the ability of States to take countermeasures in response to violations of that obligation.
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== Scenario ==
 
== Scenario ==
  
 
=== Keywords ===
 
=== Keywords ===
Countermeasures, critical infrastructure, due diligence, international co-operation, non-State actors
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Due diligence, non-State actors, international co-operation, countermeasures
  
 
=== Facts ===
 
=== Facts ===
'''[F1]''' State A is generally considered to possess advanced cyber capabilities, including detection and incident reaction capabilities. However, it has come under a growing criticism that it does not do enough to thwart malicious cyber activities that originate from or transit through its territory. Several States have made public statements in international fora complaining that their requests for assistance submitted to State A’s authorities had been ignored. Nonetheless, State A’s public response has been to maintain that it had attended to all reasonable requests received from other States.
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State A is generally considered to possess advanced cyber capabilities. However, it has come under a growing criticism that it does not do enough to thwart malicious cyber activities that originate in or transit through its territory. Several States have made public statements in international fora complaining that their requests for assistance submitted to State A’s authorities had been ignored. Nonetheless, State A’s public response has been to maintain that it had attended to all reasonable requests received from other States.
  
'''[F2]''' Following an aircraft crash in State B involving scores of casualties, caused apparently by a fault in the air traffic control system of State B’s receiving airport, its domestic forensic investigation concludes that the fault had been caused by a premeditated cyber operation originating from the territory of State A and that it cannot be excluded that the operation will be repeated. State B’s relevant authorities submit a request for an urgent assistance to State A, asking that more information be provided on specific actors and that the infrastructure identified in the request be investigated and command and control servers shut down immediately.
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Following an aircraft crash in State B involving scores of casualties, caused apparently by a fault in the air traffic control system of State B’s receiving airport, its domestic forensic investigation concludes that the fault had been the result of a premeditated cyber operation originating in the territory of State A and that it cannot be excluded that the operation will be repeated. State B’s authorities, namely the governmental CERT followed by law enforcement organs, submit a request for assistance to State A, asking that more information be provided on specific actors and that the infrastructure identified in the request be investigated and command and control servers shut down.
  
'''[F3]''' Several days later, the foreign ministry of State B issues a statement claiming that no response has been received from State A to the request for assistance. The statement further says that it considers the matter to be one of utmost importance for its national security and expresses grave concerns about impact on mutual relations. On the same day, the foreign ministry of State A responds with a public statement noting that while it cannot comment on any ongoing investigation, its general policy is to attend to all reasonable requests for assistance received from other States. It adds that in any event its domestic laws do not allow it to intervene in privately owned cyber infrastructure.
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Several days later, the foreign ministry of State B issues a statement claiming that no response has been received from State A to the request for assistance. The statement further says that that it considers the matter to be one of utmost importance for its national security and expresses grave concerns about impact on mutual relations. On the same day, the foreign ministry of State A responds with a public statement noting that while it cannot comment on any ongoing investigation, its general policy is to attend to all reasonable requests for assistance received from other States. It adds that in any event its domestic laws do not allow it to intervene in privately owned cyber infrastructure.
  
'''[F4]''' One week after this exchange of statements, hundreds of State A’s government servers come under sustained large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. As a result, many public services ordinarily provided to the population of State A by online means become unavailable, including the system of e-health prescriptions, lodging of e-tax returns, and e-ticketing on public transport across the country.
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One week after this exchange of statements, hundreds of State A’s government servers come under sustained large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. As a result, many public services ordinarily provided to the population of State A by online means become unavailable, including the system of e-health prescriptions, lodging of e-tax returns, and e-ticketing on public transport across the country.
  
 
=== Examples ===
 
=== Examples ===
*[[DNC email leak (2016)]]
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* [[Sony pictures hack (2014)]]
*[[Sony Pictures Entertainment attack (2014)]]
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* [[Cyber attacks against Estonia (2007)]]
*[[Cyber attacks against Estonia (2007)]]
 
<!--
 
*[[Office of Personnel Management data breach (2015)]]
 
*[[Sands Casino hack (2014)]]
 
*[[Operation Ababil (2012-2013)]]
 
-->
 
  
 
== Legal analysis ==
 
== Legal analysis ==
 
''For a general overview of the structure of analysis in this section, see [[Note on the structure of articles]].''
 
''For a general overview of the structure of analysis in this section, see [[Note on the structure of articles]].''
  
'''[L1]''' The legal analysis in this scenario first considers whether State A’s failure to respond to State B’s request for assistance qualifies as a violation of its due diligence obligations under customary international law or any specific treaty obligations related to interference with air traffic control. It then examines whether the measures State B took in response can be qualified as lawful countermeasures against State A.
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The legal analysis in this scenario first considers whether State A’s failure to respond to State B’s request for assistance qualifies as a violation of its due diligence obligations under customary international law or any specific treaty obligations related to interference with air traffic control. It then examines whether the measures State B took in response can be qualified as lawful countermeasures against State A.
  
 
=== Due diligence ===
 
=== Due diligence ===
 
{{#lst:Due diligence|Definition}}
 
{{#lst:Due diligence|Definition}}
'''[L2]''' In the present scenario, all the elements seem to have been met. To begin with, the cyber operation against State B has resulted in the deaths of many individuals and significant destruction in that State’s territory. As such, the operation was manifestly contrary to the rights of State B (condition 1).
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In the present scenario, all of the elements seem to have been met. To begin with, the cyber operation against State B has resulted in the deaths of many individuals and significant destruction in that State’s territory. As such, the operation was manifestly contrary to the rights of State B (condition 1).
  
'''[L3]''' The indicators of compromise identified by the authorities of State B suggest that cyber infrastructure on the territory of State A had been used to mount the cyber operation in question. This information has not been opposed in any way by the territorial State. The acts in question should thus be seen as conducted from or at least through the territory of State A (condition 2).
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The indicators of compromise identified by the authorities of State B suggest that cyber infrastructure on the territory of State A had been used to mount the cyber operation in question. This information has not been opposed in any way by the territorial State. The acts in question should thus be seen as conducted from or at least through the territory of State A (condition 2).
  
'''[L4]''' Air traffic control systems usually form part of a State’s critical infrastructure and their proper functioning can be considered as pertaining to national security as well as part of that State’s international obligations in case of international aerial transportation. There is no doubt that a cyber operation which disables air traffic control systems, prevents the State from fulfilling its international obligations, and results in lethal effects, thus impacting on national security, constitutes a breach of international law.<ref>See, eg, UK, Statement of Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP, “[https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/cyber-and-international-law-in-the-21st-century Cyber and International Law in the 21st Century]” (23 May 2018) (“If it would be a breach of international law to bomb an air traffic control tower with the effect of downing civilian aircraft, then it will be a breach of international law to use a hostile cyber operation to disable air traffic control systems which results in the same, ultimately lethal, effects.”).</ref> Therefore, had the acts and omissions in question attributed to State A, they would manifestly have been internationally unlawful (condition 3).
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Air traffic control systems usually form part of a state’s critical infrastructure and their proper functioning can be considered as pertaining to national security as well as part of that state’s international obligations in case of international aerial transportation. There is no doubt that a hostile cyber operation which disables air traffic control systems, prevents the state from fulfilling its international obligations, and results in lethal effects, thus impacting on national security, constitutes a breach of international law.<ref>See, eg, UK, Statement of Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP, “[https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/cyber-and-international-law-in-the-21st-century Cyber and International Law in the 21st Century]” (23 May 2018) (“If it would be a breach of international law to bomb an air traffic control tower with the effect of downing civilian aircraft, then it will be a breach of international law to use a hostile cyber operation to disable air traffic control systems which results in the same, ultimately lethal, effects.”).</ref> Therefore, had the acts in question been conducted by State A, they would manifestly have been internationally unlawful (condition 3).
  
'''[L5]''' Similarly, there is little doubt that an operation that results in scores of civilian deaths should be seen as entailing “serious adverse consequences” for the victim State. This criterion may be somewhat difficult to meet with respect to certain “below the threshold” operations. However, it is generally accepted that “operations that would comprise, were they to be directly undertaken by a State, ‘over the threshold’ of international law rules on use of force” do trigger the due diligence obligations of the potentially responsible State<ref>Dan Efrony and Yuval Shany, “[https://doi.org/10.1017/ajil.2018.86 A Rule Book on the Shelf? Tallinn Manual 2.0 on Cyberoperations and Subsequent State Practice]” (2018) 112 American Journal of International Law 583, 55.</ref> (condition 4).
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Similarly, there is little doubt that an operation that results in scores of civilian deaths should be seen as entailing “serious adverse consequences” for the victim State. This criterion may be somewhat difficult to meet with respect to certain “below the threshold” operations. However, it is generally accepted that “operations that would comprise, were they to be directly undertaken by a State, ‘over the threshold’ of international law rules on use of force” do trigger the due diligence obligations of the potentially responsible State<ref>D Efrony and Y Shany, “A Rule Book on the Shelf? Tallinn Manual 2.0 on Cyber Operations and Subsequent State Practice” (3 May 2018) Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 18-22, p. 55.</ref> (condition 4).
  
'''[L6]''' The next question is one of knowledge. It is unclear whether State A had actual knowledge of the forthcoming hostile operation from its territory in the first place. However, there are strong indications that it had at least constructive knowledge of the operation. In particular, its possession of advanced detection capabilities combined with its ignorance of repeated States’ requests for assistance suggest that State A should have known of the operation in question or that it had turned a blind eye to it. Hypothetically, if the attackers had used, at least in part, State A’s governmental cyber infrastructure, it would be easier to claim State A’s knowledge.<ref>Cf. [https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 6, para 40 (“[W]hen a State’s governmental cyber infrastructure is being exploited by another State or non-State actor for an operation, the ‘should have known’ standard is more likely to be met than in the case of the use of private infrastructure”).</ref> Nonetheless, by the time State B’s relevant authorities had submitted the request for assistance to State A, the knowledge element (condition 5) would likely have been met.<ref>Cf. [https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 6, para 37 (noting that a State will be considered as having actual knowledge “if it has received credible information that a harmful cyber operation is underway from its territory”).</ref>
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The next question is one of knowledge. It is unclear whether State A had actual knowledge of the forthcoming hostile operation from its territory in the first place. However, there are strong indications that it had at least constructive knowledge of the operation. In particular, its status as a cyber power possessing advanced capabilities suggests that it should have known of the operation in question. Hypothetically, if the attackers had used, at least in part, State A’s governmental cyber infrastructure, it would be easier to claim State A’s knowledge.<ref>Cf. Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to rule 6, para. 40 (“[W]hen a State’s governmental cyber infrastructure is being exploited by another State or non-State actor for an operation, the ‘should have known’ standard is more likely to be met than in the case of the use of private infrastructure”).</ref> Nonetheless, by the time State B’s governmental CERT and law enforcement organs had submitted the request for assistance to State A, the knowledge element (condition 5) would likely have been met.<ref>Cf. Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to rule 6, para. 37 (noting that a State will be considered as having actual knowledge “if it has received credible information that a harmful cyber operation is underway from its territory”).</ref>
 
   
 
   
'''[L7]''' Finally, it appears that State A has failed to take any measures to stop the hostile operation emanating from its territory. It may well be the case that State A’s domestic law proscribed it from acting against the threat, as its foreign ministry implied when it noted that State A’s authorities may not intervene in privately owned cyber infrastructure. However, this would be of no relevance as to the characterization of State A’s conduct under international law,<ref>See, ILC [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/9_6_2001.pdf Articles on State Responsibility], Commentary, Part 1 Chapter 1 on Art 3, para 1 (“An act of a State must be characterized as internationally wrongful if it constitutes a breach of an international obligation, even if the act does not contravene the State’s internal law—even if, under that law, the State was actually bound to act in that way.”); see also ibid, para. 8 (“States cannot use their internal law as a means of escaping international responsibility.”) </ref> given that “domestic legal limitations do not justify a State’s failure to comply with its due diligence obligation”.<ref>[https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 7, para 22.</ref> Similarly, State A would not be assisted by a reference to its general policy to respond to other States’ requests. In this regard, the pattern of ignoring requests apparent from prior public statements by other countries would amount to an indication that this policy is actually ineffective in practice. In sum, State A’s failure to take any specific steps designed to put an end to the hostile operations against State B strongly suggests that it had failed to act in response to the acts contrary to the rights of State B (condition 6).
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Finally, it appears that State A has failed to take any measures to stop the hostile operation emanating from its territory. It may well be the case that State A’s domestic law proscribed it from acting against the threat, as its foreign ministry implied when it noted that State A’s authorities may not intervene in privately owned cyber infrastructure. However, this would be of no relevance as to the characterization of State A’s conduct under international law,<ref>See, eg, Articles on State Responsibility, commentary to Art. 3, para. 1 (“An act of a State must be characterized as internationally wrongful if it constitutes a breach of an international obligation, even if the act does not contravene the State’s internal law—even if, under that law, the State was actually bound to act in that way.”); see also ibid, para. 8 (“States cannot use their internal law as a means of escaping international responsibility.”) </ref> given that “domestic legal limitations do not justify a State’s failure to comply with its due diligence obligation”.<ref>Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to rule 7, para. 22.</ref> Similarly, State A would not be assisted by a reference to its general policy to respond to other States’ requests. In this regard, the pattern of ignoring requests apparent from prior public statements by other countries would amount to an indication that this policy is actually ineffective in practice. In sum, State A’s failure to take any specific steps designed to put an end to the hostile operations against State B strongly suggests that it would be seen as having failed to act in response to the acts contrary to the rights of State B (condition 6).
 
   
 
   
'''[L8]''' In addition to these general considerations relating to the obligation of due diligence which applies as a matter of customary international law, specific States may have additional treaty obligations in similar situations of interference with air traffic control. This is particularly the case with respect to those States that are parties to the 1971 Montreal Convention.<ref>Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation (signed 23 September 1971, entered into force 26 January 1973) 974 UNTS 178 (“[https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20974/volume-974-I-14118-english.pdf Montreal Convention]”).</ref> The Convention prescribes that a State which has “reason to believe” that an offence of this kind will be committed has a duty to furnish any relevant information to the potential victim State.<ref>[https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20974/volume-974-I-14118-english.pdf Montreal Convention], Art 12.</ref> Moreover, once the offence has been committed, States have an obligation to “afford one another the greatest measure of assistance” in the resulting criminal proceedings.<ref>[https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20974/volume-974-I-14118-english.pdf Montreal Convention], Art 11(1).</ref> Accordingly, if States A and B both were parties to the Montreal Convention, then the failure of State A to warn and later to assist State B could additionally violate the former’s relevant treaty obligations.
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In addition to these general considerations relating to the obligation of due diligence which applies as a matter of customary international law, specific States may have additional treaty obligations in similar situations of interference with air traffic control. This is particularly the case with respect to those States that are parties to the 1971 Montreal Convention.<ref>Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation (signed 23 September 1971, entered into force 26 January 1973) 974 UNTS 178 (“Montreal Convention”).</ref> The Convention prescribes that a State which has “reason to believe” that an offence of this kind will be committed has a duty to furnish any relevant information to the potential victim State.<ref>Montreal Convention, Art. 12.</ref> Moreover, once the offence has been committed, States have an obligation to “afford one another the greatest measure of assistance” in the resulting criminal proceedings.<ref>Montreal Convention, Art. 11(1).</ref> Accordingly, if States A and B both were parties to the Montreal Convention, then the failure of State A to warn and later to assist State B would additionally violate the former’s relevant treaty obligations.
  
 
=== Countermeasures in response to a violation of due diligence ===
 
=== Countermeasures in response to a violation of due diligence ===
  
 
{{#lst:Countermeasures|Definition}}
 
{{#lst:Countermeasures|Definition}}
'''[L9]''' Assuming that due diligence is a binding international legal obligation that extends to the cyber context (a question that is analysed in the section on [[due diligence]]), an injured State may respond to the violation of this obligation by resorting to countermeasures against the responsible State.<ref>Cf. [https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 7, para 28 (“If a State is unwilling to terminate harmful cyber operations encompassed by the due diligence principle as opposed to unable to do so, the injured State may be entitled to resort to countermeasures ... based on the territorial State’s failure to comply with [its due diligence obligations].”).</ref> Any such response must comply with the strict conditions that international law imposes on the lawful exercise of countermeasures.<ref>See ILC [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/9_6_2001.pdf Articles on State Responsibility], Arts 49–53.</ref>
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Assuming that due diligence is a binding international legal obligation that extends to the cyber context (a question that is analysed in the section on [[due diligence]]), an injured State may respond to the violation of this obligation by resorting to countermeasures against the responsible State.<ref>Cf. Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to rule 7, para. 28 (“If a State is unwilling to terminate harmful cyber operations encompassed by the due diligence principle as opposed to unable to do so, the injured State may be entitled to resort to countermeasures ... based on the territorial State’s failure to comply with [its due diligence obligations].”).</ref> Any such response must comply with the strict conditions that international law imposes on the lawful exercise of countermeasures.<ref>See Articles on State Responsibility, Arts 49–53.</ref>
  
'''[L10]''' In the present case, whether or not the relevant criteria have been met would depend on the following considerations. At the outset, it should be noted that the analysis proceeds on the assumption that the DDoS attacks against State A’s cyber infrastructure were [[Attribution|attributable]] to State B. It is also assumed that the act of launching the attacks could qualify as a breach of an international obligation of State B (for the analysis of a similar fact pattern, refer to [[Scenario 05: State investigates and responds to cyber operations against private actors in its territory|Scenario 05]]). Without these preconditions, any assessment of countermeasures would be moot as there would be no relevant conduct by the injured State in question that could potentially qualify as a countermeasure.
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In the present case, whether or not the relevant criteria have been met would depend on the following considerations. At the outset, it should be noted that the analysis proceeds on the assumption that the DDoS attack against State A’s cyber infrastructure was [[Attribution|attributable]] to State B. Without this precondition, any assessment of countermeasures would be moot as there would be no relevant conduct by the injured State in question that could qualify as a countermeasure.
  
'''[L11]''' Firstly, State A’s violation of its due diligence obligations amounts to a prior internationally wrongful act against State B as the injured State. Additionally, State A’s failure to act qualifies as a continuing internationally wrongful act for as long as it chooses not to take any specific steps designed to put an end to the hostile operations against State B.<ref>Cf. ILC [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/9_6_2001.pdf Articles on State Responsibility], Commentary in Part 2, Chapter 1 on Art 30, para 3 (noting that the notion of a continuing wrongful act extends to “situations where a State has violated an obligation on a series of occasions, implying the possibility of further repetitions”).</ref> This period of inaction by State A also delineates the temporary scope within which State B may, provided that the remaining conditions are met, resort to countermeasures.<ref>Cf. ILC [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/9_6_2001.pdf Articles on State Responsibility], Commentary in Part 3, Chapter 2 on Art 53, para 2 (“countermeasures must be terminated as soon as the conditions which justified them have ceased”).</ref>
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Firstly, State A’s violation of its due diligence obligations amounts to a prior internationally wrongful act against State B as the injured State. Additionally, State A’s failure to act qualifies as a continuing internationally wrongful act for as long as it chooses not to take any specific steps designed to put an end to the hostile operations against State B.<ref>Cf. Articles on State Responsibility, Art. 30, para. 3 (noting that the notion of a continuing wrongful act extends to “situations where a State has violated an obligation on a series of occasions, implying the possibility of further repetitions”).</ref> This period of inaction by State A also delineates the temporary scope within which State B may, provided that the remaining conditions are met, resort to countermeasures.<!-- add reference: <ref>...</ref> -->
  
'''[L12]''' Secondly, the public statement by State B’s foreign ministry may be construed as a request on State A to cease its internationally wrongful conduct. It has been noted that the requirement of notification is “probably unrealistic” in the cyber context.<ref>Marco Roscini, <i>Cyber Operations and the Use of Force in International Law</i> (OUP 2014) 106</ref> and it is the view of at least one State that prior notification need not be given if doing so would “expose highly sensitive capabilities in defending the country in the cyber arena”.<ref>UK Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP, '[https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/cyber-and-international-law-in-the-21st-century Cyber and International Law in the 21st Century]'.</ref>
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Secondly, the public statement by State B’s foreign ministry may be construed as a request on State A to cease its internationally wrongful conduct. It has been noted that the requirement of notification is “probably unrealistic” in the cyber context.<ref>M Roscini, <i>Cyber Operations and the Use of Force in International Law</i> (OUP 2014) 106.</ref>
  
'''[L13]''' Thirdly, for the DDoS attacks against State A’s infrastructure to be lawful, their object would have to have been strictly limited to inducing State A to comply with its international obligations. In particular, if State A did indeed provide the requested information to State B while the attacks were underway, State B would have to terminate the attacks given that the object of its countermeasure—the restoration of legality as between the two States—would have been achieved.<ref>Cf. ILC [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/9_6_2001.pdf Articles on State Responsibility], Commentary in Part 3, Chapter 2 on Art 49, para 7 (noting that the aim of countermeasures is “the restoration of a condition of legality as between the injured State and the responsible State”); see also Robin Geiss and Henning Lahmann, ‘Freedom and Security in Cyberspace: Shifting the Focus Away from Military Responses Towards Non-Forcible Countermeasures and Collective Threat-Prevention’ in Katharina Ziolkowski (ed), <i>Peacetime Regime for State Activities in Cyberspace</i> (NATO CCD COE 2013) 638 (“the remedy of resorting to countermeasures is strictly instrumental, and not permitted as a means to retaliate. As a consequence, countermeasures are not allowed once the unlawful act has ceased”).</ref> The aim to restore the legality on both sides implies that countermeasures should be, “as far as possible”,<ref>ILC [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/9_6_2001.pdf Articles on State Responsibility], commentary to Part Three, Chapter II, para 6. </ref> reversible in nature;<ref>James Crawford, <i>State Responsibility: The General Part</i> (CUP 2013) 688 (“the question of reversibility is intimately linked to the instrumental function of countermeasures, to the extent that it implies a reversion to legality on both sides after the objectives of cessation and reparation have been met”).</ref> this criterion is typically met by DDoS attacks such as those launched against State A in the present scenario.<ref>[https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0], commentary to rule 21, para 8.</ref>
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Thirdly, for the DDoS attacks against State A’s infrastructure to be lawful, their object would have to have been strictly limited to inducing State A to comply with its international obligations. In particular, if State A did indeed provide the requested information to State B while the attacks were underway, State B would have to terminate the attacks given that the object of its countermeasure—the restoration of legality as between the two States—would have been achieved.<ref>Cf. Articles on State Responsibility, Art. 49, para. 7 (noting that the aim of countermeasures is “the restoration of a condition of legality as between the injured State and the responsible State”); see also R Geiss and H Lahmann, ‘Freedom and Security in Cyberspace: Shifting the Focus Away from Military Responses Towards Non-Forcible Countermeasures and Collective Threat-Prevention’ in K Ziolkowski (ed), <i>Peacetime Regime for State Activities in Cyberspace</i> (NATO CCD COE 2013) 638 (“the remedy of resorting to countermeasures is strictly instrumental, and not permitted as a means to retaliate. As a consequence, countermeasures are not allowed once the unlawful act has ceased”).</ref> The aim to restore the legality on both sides implies that countermeasures should be, “as far as possible”,<ref>Articles on State Responsibility, commentary to Part Three, Chapter II, para. 6. </ref> reversible in nature;<ref>J Crawford, <i>State Responsibility: The General Part</i> (CUP 2013) 688 (“the question of reversibility is intimately linked to the instrumental function of countermeasures, to the extent that it implies a reversion to legality on both sides after the objectives of cessation and reparation have been met”).</ref> this criterion is typically met by DDoS attacks such as those launched against State A in the present scenario.<ref>Tallinn Manual 2.0, commentary to rule 21, para. 8.</ref>
  
'''[L14]''' Fourthly, the DDoS attacks against State A would have to comply with the requirement of proportionality. To begin with, proportionality does not imply that the injured State’s response must be equivalent or reciprocal.<ref>ILC [http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/commentaries/9_6_2001.pdf Articles on State Responsibility], part 3, ch 2, at para 5 (‘a limitation to reciprocal countermeasures assumes that the injured State will be in a position to impose the same or related measures as the responsible State, which may not be so’). <!-- BUT ALSO IBID (“[c]ountermeasures are more likely to satisfy the requirements of necessity and proportionality if they are taken in relation to the same or a closely related obligation.”) --> </ref> This is of crucial importance in the present case, as any active response to a <i>failure to act</i> will always by definition be non-reciprocal in nature.<ref>See Robin Geiss and Henning Lahmann, ‘Freedom and Security in Cyberspace: Shifting the Focus Away from Military Responses Towards Non-Forcible Countermeasures and Collective Threat-Prevention’ in Katharina Ziolkowski (ed), <i>Peacetime Regime for State Activities in Cyberspace</i> (NATO CCD COE 2013) 634–35.</ref> In favour of proportionality, State B could argue that its action was commensurate with the injury suffered, taking into account the severe risk of further loss of life and significant damage that may result if future hostile operations emanating from State A’s territory are not thwarted. By contrast, the impact of the DDoS attacks on services wholly unrelated to State A’s unwillingness to thwart malicious cyber operations would militate against the proportionality of the supposed countermeasures. Ultimately, the assessment of proportionality is highly contextual and would depend on the specific circumstances of the case at hand.
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Fourthly, the DDoS attacks against State A would have to comply with the requirement of proportionality. To begin with, proportionality does not imply that the injured State’s response must be equivalent or reciprocal.<ref>Articles on State Responsibility, part III, ch 2, at para 5 (‘a limitation to reciprocal countermeasures assumes that the injured State will be in a position to impose the same or related measures as the responsible State, which may not be so’). <!-- BUT ALSO IBID (“[c]ountermeasures are more likely to satisfy the requirements of necessity and proportionality if they are taken in relation to the same or a closely related obligation.”) --> </ref> This is of crucial importance in the present case, as any active response to a <i>failure to act</i> will always by definition be non-reciprocal in nature.<ref>See R Geiss and H Lahmann, ‘Freedom and Security in Cyberspace: Shifting the Focus Away from Military Responses Towards Non-Forcible Countermeasures and Collective Threat-Prevention’ in K Ziolkowski (ed), <i>Peacetime Regime for State Activities in Cyberspace</i> (NATO CCD COE 2013) 634–35.</ref> In favour of proportionality, State B could argue that its action was commensurate with the injury suffered, taking into account the severe risk of further loss of life and significant damage that may result if future hostile operations emanating from State A’s territory are not thwarted. By contrast, the impact of the DDoS attacks on services wholly unrelated to State A’s unwillingness to thwart malicious cyber operations would militate against the proportionality of the supposed countermeasures. Ultimately, the assessment of proportionality is highly contextual and would depend on the specific circumstances of the case at hand.
  
 
== Checklist ==
 
== Checklist ==
* [[Due diligence]]:
+
* Due diligence: Did the relevant cyber operation adversely affect the rights of a State?
** Did the relevant cyber operation adversely affect the rights of a State?
+
* Due diligence: Was the cyber operation conducted from or through the territory of another State?
** Was the cyber operation conducted from or through the territory of another State?
+
* Due diligence: Would the cyber operation have been unlawful if conducted by the potentially responsible State?
** Would the cyber operation have been unlawful if conducted by the potentially responsible State?
+
* Due diligence: Did the incident result in serious adverse consequences for the victim State?
** Did the incident result in serious adverse consequences for the victim State?
+
* Due diligence: Did the potentially responsible State know or should it have known of the incident in question?
** Did the potentially responsible State know of the incident in question? Alternatively, even if it only became aware of the incident through the information from the injured State, should it have known of it at the material time?
+
* Due diligence: Did the potentially responsible State take all feasible measures to put an end to the malicious cyber activities?
** Did the potentially responsible State take all feasible measures to put an end to the malicious cyber activities?
 
* [[Countermeasures]]:
 
** Is the injured State responding to a prior internationally wrongful act of the responsible State?
 
** Would the injured State’s conduct taken in response amount to an internationally wrongful act if not justified as a countermeasure?
 
** Do the measures taken in response by the injured State meet the conditions prescribed for the lawful resort to countermeasures under international law?
 
  
 
== Appendixes ==
 
== Appendixes ==
  
 
=== See also ===
 
=== See also ===
 +
 +
* [[Attribution]]
 
* [[Due diligence]]
 
* [[Due diligence]]
* [[Circumstances precluding wrongfulness]]
 
 
* [[Countermeasures]]
 
* [[Countermeasures]]
* [[Scenario 04: A State’s failure to assist an international organization]]
 
* [[Scenario 05: State investigates and responds to cyber operations against private actors in its territory]]
 
* [[Scenario 07: Leak of State-developed hacking tools]]
 
* [[Scenario 09: Economic cyber espionage]]
 
* [[Scenario 14: Ransomware campaign]]
 
  
 
=== Notes and references ===
 
=== Notes and references ===
Line 90: Line 76:
  
 
=== Bibliography and further reading ===
 
=== Bibliography and further reading ===
* Luke Chircop, ‘[https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020589318000015 A Due Diligence Standard of Attribution in Cyberspace]’ (2018) 67 ICLQ.
+
* [TBC]
* James Crawford, ''State Responsibility: The General Part'' (CUP 2013).
 
* Dan Efrony and Yuval Shany, '[https://doi.org/10.1017/ajil.2018.86 A Rule Book on the Shelf? Tallinn Manual 2.0 on Cyberoperations and Subsequent State Practice]' (2018) 112 AJIL.
 
* Robin Geiss and Henning Lahmann, ‘Freedom and Security in Cyberspace: Shifting the Focus Away from Military Responses Towards Non-Forcible Countermeasures and Collective Threat-Prevention’ in Katharina Ziolkowski (ed), ''Peacetime Regime for State Activities in Cyberspace'' (NATO CCD COE 2013).
 
* James Green, ‘[https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020589308000833 Fluctuating Evidentiary Standards for Self-Defence in the International Court of Justice]’ (2009) 58 ICLQ 163
 
* Marco Roscini, ''Cyber Operations and the Use of Force in International Law'' (OUP 2014).
 
* Michael N Schmitt (ed), ''[https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316822524 Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations]'' (CUP 2017).
 
* Rüdiger Wolfrum, ‘Obligation of Result Versus Obligation of Conduct: Some Thoughts About the Implementation of International Obligations’ in Mahnoush H Arsanjani et al, ''Looking to the Future: Essays on International Law in Honor of Michael Reisman'' (Brill 2010).
 
 
<!--
 
<!--
 
* MN Schmitt (ed), ''Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations'' (CUP 2017)
 
* MN Schmitt (ed), ''Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations'' (CUP 2017)
Line 104: Line 83:
  
 
=== Contributions ===
 
=== Contributions ===
* Scenario by: [[People#Editorial_board|Taťána Jančárková]] & [[People#Editorial_board|Kubo Mačák]]
+
* Scenario by: [[People|Taťána Jančárková]] & [[People|Kubo Mačák]]
* Analysis by: [[People#Editorial_board|Kubo Mačák]]
+
* Analysis by: [[People|Kubo Mačák]]
* Reviewed by: [[People#Peer_reviewers|Václav Borovička]]; [[People#Peer_reviewers|Dan Efrony]]; [[People#Peer_reviewers|Anna-Maria Osula]]; [[People#Peer_reviewers|Barrie Sander]]; [[People#Peer_reviewers|Peter Stockburger]]
+
* Reviewed by: [TBC]
  
{| class="wikitable"
 
|+
 
|Previous: [[Scenario 05: State investigates and responds to cyber operations against private actors in its territory|Scenario 05: Criminal investigation]]
 
|Next: [[Scenario 07: Leak of State-developed hacking tools|Scenario 07: Hacking tools]]
 
|}
 
[[Category:Countermeasures]]
 
[[Category:Critical infrastructure]]
 
 
[[Category:Due diligence]]
 
[[Category:Due diligence]]
 +
[[Category:Non-State actors]]
 
[[Category:International cooperation]]
 
[[Category:International cooperation]]
[[Category:Non-State actors]]
+
[[Category:Countermeasures]]
[[Category:Scenario]]
 

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