Despite last decade’s abundant legal literature on the subject, not only is a clear and unambiguous international consensus regarding the legal status of Cyber Warfare Operations hitherto nonexistent, but the very views of international law scholars present also a –peculiarly– high level of heterogeneity.
Are Cyber Attacks, also known as Computer Network Attacks (CNA) prohibited under the non-use of force doctrine or permitted within the concept of self-defence? Are they even subject to the Law of War? In order to find answers to questions such as the aforementioned, various aspects of International Law will be applied, underlining the need for a reform of notions such as armed conflict, use of force and attack.
Ever since the inception of society, humanity has exhibited a certain interest in establishing rules of law which –ever so– gradually crystallize into custom and/or law.
In the universal terrain, the cumbersome and slowly evolving international law has traditionally faced difficulties when asked to embrace the advent of new warfare technologies, whether these bear the name of chemical-bacteriological, nuclear or other novel arms. Every time a new breakthrough of technology is being depicted in the means of warfare, a heated legal debate is sparked regarding the latter’s status under international law; usually, this controversy subsides after the drafting of a regulatory international treaty.
So, now it is the turn for computer-based weapons to be placed on the table for legal inspection. Can they be adequately covered by the existent international law framework or is it high time that a regulating treaty regime was established?