Scenario 15: Cyber deception in time of armed conflict
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International armed conflict, international humanitarian law, perfidy, protective indicators, ruses of war
[F1] During an international armed conflict between the armed forces of State A and State B, State A's armed forces prepare for an attack on States B's armed forces. Immediately prior to the attack, State A engages in several cyber operations:
- Dear John E-mail: State A sends an email to the commander of State Bs armed forces which appears to be a break up e-mail from the commanders spouse. The obvious intent of the email is to distract the State B commander and cause him emotional distress at a critical time. (RUSE)
- Blue Force Tracker: State A hacks into the force tracking system of State B. In doing so, it now appears that some of State B's forces are State A. As such, State B forces start fighting among themselves resulting in significant casualties among the state B forces. (PERFIDY)
- Spoofed Case Fire Message: State A hacks into the command and control network of State B. In doing so, it sends a message purportedly from State B's President proclaiming a case-fire. State B's forces stand-down. State A aggressively attacks and destroys State B armed forces. (PERFIDY - functional equivalent of white flag)
- Impersonating ICRC: sending e-mails/abusing apps to get civilians to block crucial road used by military (distribution of food/water obstructing the road for military movement prior enemy offensive) (PERFIDY, use of protective indicators, cf. Rule 124 of TM 2.0)
For a general overview of the structure of analysis in this section, see Note on the structure of articles.
- Military objectives
- Scenario 10: Cyber weapons review
- Scenario 12: Cyber operations against computer data
- Scenario 13: Cyber operations as a trigger of the law of armed conflict
Notes and references
Bibliography and further reading
- Cordula Droege, ‘Get Off My Cloud: Cyber Warfare, International Humanitarian Law, and the Protection of Civilians’ (2012) 94 IRRC 533.
- Yves Sandoz, Christophe Swinarski, and Bruno Zimmermann (eds), Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (ICRC 1987).
- Michael N Schmitt (ed), Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations (CUP 2017).
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