Cyber

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The Oxford Statement on International Law Protections in Cyberspace: The Regulation of Ransomware Operations

In the past few months, nothing has reminded everyone of the etymology of the expression ‘computer virus’ like ransomware. This form of malicious code is delivered through a vulnerability in the victim’s system, such as a phishing email or password spraying, infiltrating and potentially crippling it like a disease. Specifically, ransomware is used to encrypt user data and either delete or release that data unless a demand (commonly for money) is met. Ipso facto, ransomware causes by definition adverse consequences for its intended and unintended targets. Even when the ransom is paid or the attacker’s demand is eventually met, frequently a portion of the encrypted data will have been lost anyway and the victim may be forced to stay offline for a while, incurring significant costs to repair or change its systems. Where the victim serves others, for example, providing public goods like healthcare, education, or utilities, the adverse consequences can quickly, and foreseeably, spread beyond the ransomware’s initial targets.  In other cases, the means by which ransomware is delivered — especially when delivered through or as part…

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International Law at NATO’s Brussels Summit

The June 2021 NATO summit in Brussels was noteworthy for the U.S. renewal of its commitment to the Alliance. Speaking with Secretary-General Stoltenberg, President Biden reassured NATO members (the “Allies”) that “NATO is critically important for U.S. interests” and “Article 5, we take as a sacred obligation.” Also noteworthy was the extent to which NATO…

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The Oxford Statement on International Law Protections in Cyberspace: The Regulation of Information Operations and Activities

The Internet has allowed the dissemination of content across the globe in a matter of seconds. Recommendation algorithms, found in social media platforms and search engines, have also dangerously amplified the reach of false, misleading, and violent content (see here, here, and here). Because they are geared towards…

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Even ‘cyber wars’ have limits. But what if they didn’t?

In today’s digitalizing world, States and non-State armed groups increasingly employ cyber capabilities in their military operations, and their use is likely to grow. Still, there is a debate – most prominently in the framework of the two multilateral processes under the auspices of the United Nations – as to how the existing international legal frameworks apply to…

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Protecting Societies – Anchoring a new protection dimension in international law during armed conflict: An agenda for discussion

Adversarial military cyber operations carried out during armed conflict can affect the functioning of civilian societies in unprecedented ways, challenging the protective reach of international humanitarian law (IHL). In light of this, we argue for a recognition of new protection needs to shield critical societal processes from military cyber threats in situations of armed conflict. A…

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