The Prohibition of Cyberterrorism as a Method of Warfare in International Law
Keywords:Acts of violence, armed conflict, cyberattacks, cyberterrorism, international humanitarian law
There is no doubt that cyber operations can play a significant role in the conduct of warfare. In fact, an ongoing cyber arms race among states and non-state actors evokes fears among some of a looming ‘digital Pearl Harbour’ or a ‘digital 9/11’. Given these fears, there have been calls for the elaboration of a ‘Digital Geneva Convention’ to protect civilians from the harmful consequences of cyberattacks. In this context, this article focuses on one specific aspect of cyber operations during situations of armed conflict: cyberterrorism as a method of warfare. It examines the extent to which international humanitarian law (IHL), which was primarily designed to govern kinetic means and methods of warfare, applies to cyberterrorism. In so doing, it assesses whether the calls for a ‘Digital Geneva Convention’ are justified.
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