Cyber Attacks: Proportionality and Precautions in Attack

89 Int'l L. Stud. 198 (2013)

21 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2012 Last revised: 9 Jun 2015

See all articles by Eric Talbot Jensen

Eric Talbot Jensen

Brigham Young University School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2012


Malicious cyber activities are becoming more and more commonplace, including between nations. This has caused great speculation as to the rules that govern military cyber operations, particularly during armed conflict. The upcoming publication of the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare is indicative of the importance of this discussion. This article analyzes the application of the law of armed conflict principles of proportionality and precautions to cyber operations, including reference to the Tallinn Manual. In most cases, the existing law provides a clear paradigm to govern cyber activities. However, this article identifies several areas where governments and military operators might question how to apply these principles to a specific cyber operation. In these areas, greater precision is needed to provide clear guidance to those who plan, order, and conduct cyber operations.

Keywords: cyber, law of war, law of armed conflict, proportionality, precautions, war, armed conflict, computer

JEL Classification: K33, N40, O38

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Eric Talbot, Cyber Attacks: Proportionality and Precautions in Attack (October 1, 2012). 89 Int'l L. Stud. 198 (2013), Available at SSRN: or

Eric Talbot Jensen (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University School of Law ( email )

504 JRCB
Provo, UT 84602
United States

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