Legal and Ethical Issues of Cyber Conflict in Deeping Foundations of Cyber Conflict

Cyber conflict presents many thorny, complicated, and as-yet unresolved legal and ethical issues, many of which are exploited by adversaries to the detriment of U.S.  national security. This study is intended to comprehensively describe the current environment, apply classic legal questions (.e.g, what constitutes a use of force? What is an act of war?) to the cyber arena, and explore the implications of the findings for both U.S. and cooperative international cyber policy. The study intends to produce a set of monographs relating to U.S.-specific and international cyber policies.

Key questions for this study include:
  • When does cyberwar constitute a use of armed force or act of war?
  • What actions would constitute a war crime?
  • Will cyberwar, especially establishing defensive capabilities, have an impact on government-private sector or civil-military relations?
  • Under what circumstances could cyberwar reduce the human, economic or environmental consequences of conflict?
  • When might it exacerbate consequences? What are the possibilities for international cooperation/arms control in this realm?
  • What capabilities or activities might be usefully constrained? What factors influence the utility of global, multilateral, and bilateral arrangements?
  • Do no-first use pledges make sense? In what context?
  • What considerations should govern declaratory policy for different actors?
  • How can trust, verification, and enforcement mechanisms be established?
Study lead for U.S.-Centric Cyber Policy:
Ms. Maeve Dion
Study lead for Cooperative International Cyber Policy:
Ms. Hannah Pitts