A logo is displayed on a television screen in the National Cyber Security Centre on February 14, 2017 in London, England. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is designed to improve Britain's fight against cyber attacks and act as an operational nerve center.

Looming cyber warfare demands an overhaul of international law.

Trouble on the Horizon

April 2017, Number 08.02

“Although some progress has been made over the past decade, current international law governing cyber warfare remains vastly inadequate. It is rife with ambiguity, fails to provide legal grounds for proportional retaliation in catastrophic scenarios, and fosters an international environment in which states feel no compulsion to treat cyber warfare as “warfare.” As Sean D. Murphy notes in his 2012 book Principles of International Law, since the creation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), politicians and international law scholars have grappled with determining what exactly constitutes “use of force” and, therefore, what constitutes jus ad bellum (right to war). Also, the meaning of the term “use of force” is debatable; the U.N. General Assembly’s 1974 resolution defining aggression failed to address many of the types of actions that might be deemed unlawful uses of force. Furthermore, what constitutes the right of self-defense, as outlined in the U.N.'s Article 51, has likewise been highly debated.

With the rapid increase in hacking in recent years, the need to address cyber warfare in explicit detail remains urgent. The failure to do so will eventually become catastrophic…”

Excerpt from Brian Smith, “Trouble on the Horizon,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 8, No. 2, 2017: 56-61.

Lt. Col. Brian Smith, U.S. Central Command

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.