Cyber Warfare Is Real And Poses A Challenge To Governments, Legal Scholars

The recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures has managed to garner the attention of many, including those who relished reading hacked emails about actors and studio executives, but the threat from such warfare is not new and poses a particular challenge.

“This is an invisible war, and one where the West is at a distinct disadvantage. The Russians and Chinese can spend all year developing better ways to steal secrets from their rivals in Britain, but it is hard, legally, for us to counter-attack,” writes Alan Fraser in The Telegraph.

According to Fraser, the Pentagon ranks cyber as the fourth field of military conflict after land, sea and sky, while David Cameron’s National Security Strategy ranks it as one of the four greatest threats to Britain.

In fact, the Defense Department has for several years been working on a program to counter cyber attacks, known as Plan X, which was announced in  May 2012.

Designed by DARPA, the Pentagon division which created the internet, Plan X is a program which experts conduct novel research in the cyber domain and seek to create revolutionary technologies that will help the cyber workforce understand, plan and manage DOD cyber missions in large-scale, dynamic network environments.

Even NATO has put serious thought into the rules governing cyber warfare, gathering legal scholars together from 2009 to 2012 to contribute to a manual known as the Tallinn Manual.

“The manual is named for the capitol of Estonia, a technically savvy former Soviet Bloc country that was admitted to NATO in 2004 and which has suffered a fair amount of “cyber terrorism” from its neighbor Russia. The Tallinn Manual provides guidance and perspective from legal scholars on what international law for conflicts online should look like. However, it is not a codified body of law,” reports Popular Science.

As important as long-term planning and clarifying the rules of international law pertaining to cyber terrorism, some manner of response is warranted to the most crimes of today.

As the Obama administration publicly assigned responsibility for the attacks on North Korea, they were reaching out behind the scenes to China to assist in gaining Pyongyang’s cooperation on cyber attacks, reports Reuters.

In response, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy said Beijing said they believe in cooperation on cyber security.

“Chinese laws prohibit cyber crimes of all forms and Chinese government has done whatever it can to combat such activities. Any individual is not allowed to commit cyber illegalities in any part of China,” he said.

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