Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1892888
 


 



Stuxnet as Cyberwarfare: Applying the Law of War to the Virtual Battlefield


John C. Richardson


JMR Portfolio Intelligence

July 22, 2011


Abstract:     
In the field of international humanitarian law, there are a number of questions about the conduct of warfare in the cyber domain. In some cases, answers can be gleaned from treaties and customary international law but in other instances, solutions are seemingly intractable, begging for solutions that may only be answered by technology itself. From a legal perspective, such oversimplifications trivialize humanitarian law as well as other legal constructs already struggling to address complex issues in the cyber realm.

It is within this context that this paper focuses on a recent event known as Stuxnet, a computer virus that infected and damaged a nuclear research facility in Natanz, Iran. Reflecting on this particular cyber attack, this paper addresses two IHL issues: Does the Stuxnet attack rise to the level of an armed attack within the meaning of international humanitarian law? If so, did it adhere to the two core principles of IHL, namely distinction and proportionality? This paper finds that the Stuxnet attack does in fact rise to the level of an armed attack within the meaning of IHL and adheres to the principles of distinction and proportionality.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

Keywords: Stuxnet, cyberwar, cyberwarfare, law of war, IHL, humanitarian law, virus, Iran, Natanz, proportionality, distinction

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Date posted: July 22, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Richardson, John C., Stuxnet as Cyberwarfare: Applying the Law of War to the Virtual Battlefield (July 22, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1892888 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1892888

Contact Information

John Charles Richardson (Contact Author)
JMR Portfolio Intelligence ( email )
United States
HOME PAGE: http://jmrportfolio.com
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