Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Computer Attacks on Critical National Infrastructure: A Use of Force Invoking the Right to Self-Defense

34 Pages Posted: 18 May 2007  

Eric Talbot Jensen

Brigham Young University School of Law

Abstract

Computer networks create tremendously increased capabilities but also represent equally increased vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilites are especially acute in relation to potential attacks on critical national infrasturucture. This Article proposes that international law must evolve to recognize that attacks against a nation's critical national infrastructure from any source constitute a use of force. Such attacks, therefore, give the victim state the right to proportional self-defense - including anticipatory self-defense - even if the computer network attack is not an armed attack under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Due to the instantaneous nature of computer network attacks, the right to respond must accrue immediately, despite the traditional obstacles of attribution (determining the attacker's identity), characterization (determining the attacker's intent), and the inviolability of neutrals.

Keywords: law of war, use of force, armed attack, computer network operations, computer network attack, self-defense, infrastructure protection, homeland security

JEL Classification: K32, K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Eric Talbot, Computer Attacks on Critical National Infrastructure: A Use of Force Invoking the Right to Self-Defense. Stanford Journal of International Law, Vol. 38, p. 207, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=987046

Eric Talbot Jensen (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University School of Law ( email )

504 JRCB
Provo, UT 84602
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,457
Rank
9,754
Abstract Views
11,484