Search form

Cyberconflict

Updates

12 Apr 2017

Presidents of China and the US, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, have discussed cybersecurity issues during their meeting on 6 and 7 April at Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, as well as during their follow-up telephone call on 11 April. The report provided by the Chinese side, translated by CNN, reveals that both sides should pursue the four high-level dialogue mechanisms: diplomacy and security, economy, law enforcement and cybersecurity, and social and people-to-people exchanges. These four areas will be in focus of the implementation of the '100-Day Plan', along with expanded exchanges and coordination on cyber issues, among other. While the report from the White House didn't provide details on the meetings, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson subsequently confirmed the agreement about such high-level bilateral dialogue platform, adding that the US President also raised serious concerns about the impact of China’s cyber and other policies on American jobs and exports.

11 Apr 2017

Joint Communiqué of the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting, in its part on cyberspace, reaffirms G7 support for "an accessible, open, interoperable, reliable and secure cyberspace", but also clearly recognises that dangers are involving state actors, emphasising the risks for critical infrastructure as well as for interference in democratic processes. G7 calls for cooperation within existing international as well as multistakeholder fora, and acknowledges applicability of existing international law in cyberspace including taking measures against wrongful acts. In addition, G7 supports the work of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE), but also specifically invites states "to publicly explain their views on how existing international law applies to States’ activities in cyberspace to the greatest extent possible." The Communiqué invites states to combat cybercrime and join Budapest Convention on Cybercrime by the Council of Europe. G7 also adopted the "Declaration on Responsible States Behaviour in Cyberspace", which builds on its 2016 document from Ise-Shima on principles and actions in cyberspace Declaration reiterates G7 positions from the Communiqué, and reminds states that international law also provides a framework for responses to attacks which are under the threshold of armed attacks. It underlines that  "the customary  international law of State responsibility supplies the standards for attributing acts to States, which can be applicable to activities in cyberspace", which ensures legal responsibility for states even if cyber-attack was conducted through proxies, and confirms that states are free to make own determination on attribution and response "in accordance with international law". Declaration commends the work of the OSCE and ASEAN Regional Forum on confidence building measures, and then emphases the importance of norms of state behaviour during peacetime, reminding of those articulated in the 2015 UN GGE Report and the 2015 G20 Leaders' Communiqué including that states should encourage responsible reporting of ICT vulnerabilities.

7 Apr 2017

Website of the US National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) has been hacked to include a malicious link, inviting board members to accept an infected calendar invite for a meeting, a cybersecurity firm Fidelis Cybersecurity reported. The attack might have infected computers of board members - which include executives from Amazon, Coca-Cola, eBay, ExxonMobil, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Visa and Walmart, among others - if they clicked the malicious link. Fidelis has suggested that the specific unit of the Chinese army, known as APT10, conducted the attack in order to gain access to confidential files from the executives of US companies, yet Forbes report expressed doubts that evidences are solid enough. Earlier, BAE Systems and PwC have issued a report claiming the Chinese APT10 crew was behind "one of the largest ever sustained global cyber espionage campaigns", mainly against IT, cloud and managed service providers (MSPs).

Pages

Cyber-attacks can have a background in international relations, or bring about the consequences that can escalate to a political and diplomatic level. An increasing number of states appear to be developing their own cyber-tools for the defense, offence and intelligence related to cyberconflict.

The use of cyber-weapons by states - and, more generally, the behavior of states in cyberspace in relation to maintaining international peace and security - is moving to the top of the international agenda.

 

Dealing with cyberconflicts as policy issue is in an early stage, with some early agreements related to the implementation of the existing international law to cyberspace and drafts of the norms and confidence building measures.

The complex nature of cyberconflict

The traditional forms of war are well known. There is established international law that regulates the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects, such as the Geneva Convention which protects those who are not a part of the fighting. The rules of war, however, are different from the possible event of interstate cyber-conflicts, which are still not well defined.

A major characteristics of the cyberconflict is an almost impossible attribution of the attack even to a certain users, let alone to sponsorship by any state, due to the very complex and sophisticated weapons used which are able to work through a number of proxy layers (including botnets). Another difference between a traditional war and a possible cyberwar, however, exists in the scale: cyber-incidents do not take place between two nations while other countries silently watch. The Internet is a global resource and the cyberweapons, such as botnets, will employ the computing resources of other nations, making cyberwarfare effectively global. It is, therefore, reasonable to understand that the issues of cyber-conflicts and cyberwarfare belong to the Internet governance area and should be debated along with other security threats.

In 2013, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), prepared the Tallinn Manual elaborating on the implementation of the existing international humanitarian law on entering and conducting a war (jus ad bellum and jus in bello) in cyberspace. One attempt by academics and non-state actors to draft an international agreement is that of the Stanford Draft Convention on Protection from Cyber Crime and Terrorism. This draft recommends the establishment of an international body, named the Agency for Information Infrastructure Protection (AIIP). The UN Governmental Group of Experts has confirmed, in 2013, that the existing international law applies to cyberspace, but is yet to discuss on how it applies in practice. The OSCE has developed the Confidence Building Measures to enhance cooperation and prevent cyber-conflicts.

Events

Instruments

Conventions

Resolutions & Declarations

Wuzhen World Internet Conference Declaration (2015)

Other Instruments

2013 Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (2013)
2015 Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (2015)

Resources

International Cybersecurity Norms (2016)

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Papers

From Articulation to Implementation: Enabling Progress on Cybersecurity Norms (2016)
International Cybersecurity Norms. Reducing Conflict in an Internet-dependent World (2014)

Reports

Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation (2017)
Hostile Drones: The Hostile Use of Drones by Non-State Actors against British Targets (2016)
National Security Implications of Virtual Currency. Examining the Potential for Non-state Actor Deployment (2015)

 

The GIP Digital Watch observatory is provided by

in partnership with

and members of the GIP Steering Committee



 

GIP Digital Watch is operated by

Scroll to Top