Cyber

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Unilateral Economic Sanctions to Deter and Punish Cyber-Attacks: Are They Here to Stay?

In June 2021 during the Biden-Putin summit, President Biden stated that critical infrastructure should be “off-limits” to cyber-attacks and handed over a list of 16 areas of critical infrastructure that under no circumstance should be targeted by cyber-attacks. This took place after the SolarWinds cyber-attack that was described by SolarWinds Vice-President as “your worst nightmare”. The attack was followed by tough US unilateral sanctions – precisely, sovereign debt sanctions against Russia and sanctions targeting six Russian technology firms for their support of the Russian Intelligence Services’ cyber program. This attack as well as many others (e.g., NotPetya or WannaCry) illustrate the current problem in international law: a lack of binding norms regulating conduct in cyberspace. As a result, states are left with only a few options of how to respond and prevent cyber-enabled malicious conduct. Among the available alternatives, unilateral cyber sanctions are gaining momentum. The relevant sanctions frameworks have already been introduced by the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. On 2 December 2021, the…

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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…

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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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