Business Warfare

63 Boston College Law Review 1 (2022)

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2022-04

64 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2022 Last revised: 7 Mar 2022

See all articles by Tom C. W. Lin

Tom C. W. Lin

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: February 3, 2022


Businesses are under attack. State and non-state adversaries are assaulting companies using drones, mercenaries, cyberweapons, sanctions, and restrictions. Instead of military installations and government institutions, private firms are often the preferred targets in this mode of warfare. Instead of soldiers and squadrons with bullets and bombs, the weapons of choice are frequently economic hostilities and cyberattacks. This is the new war on business.

This Article offers an original examination of contemporary business warfare, its growing importance to national and corporate affairs, and the need for better pragmatic approaches to understanding and addressing its rising threat to our economic stability, national security, and social welfare. It begins by providing an overview of the business theater of war, investigating the combatants, targets, and weapons. Next, this Article analyzes recent episodes of business warfare involving the United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China to ground the theoretical discussion in the real world. These case studies illustrate the complex matrix of considerations posed by business warfare. The Article then contends with the fundamental legal and practical tensions of economic impact, business hostilities, cyberattacks, and non-state actors that emanate from business warfare. Finally, moving from problems to solutions, this Article proposes three workable initiatives to better protect firms and nations against the risks of business warfare. Specifically, it argues for robust business war games, smart cybersecurity guidance and incentives, as well as greater supply chain and market diversification. Ultimately, this Article aspires to provide a practical blueprint for government and corporate leaders to reflect, plan, and act with more urgency about the consequential realities of business warfare.

Keywords: national security, ransomware, CFIUS, anti-money laundering, OFAC, cybersecurity, war games, supply chain, business hostilities, laws of war, economic sanctions, state-owned enterprises

Suggested Citation

Lin, Tom C. W., Business Warfare (February 3, 2022). 63 Boston College Law Review 1 (2022), Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2022-04, Available at SSRN:

Tom C. W. Lin (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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