Cyberwar is a new kind of conflict with no established rules or ground rules. As of now, there are no ethics or damage assessment standards, and no rules for assessing the damage. However, some experts are pushing for a Digital Geneva Convention or a global treaty.
No ground rules
There are no ground rules for cyberwar, and no limits for the extent of cyber attacks. While cyberwars often target military targets, they can also disrupt civilian systems. Civilian systems tend to be outdated and poorly maintained, and therefore are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Most likely, cyberespionage and cyberattacks will target civilians, but this does not necessarily mean that they can go to greater lengths.
While traditional wars mark protected individuals with red crosses, there are no such protections in cyberspace. Because cyberspace is so interconnected, it is impossible to isolate protected individuals from the rest of the cyber-battlefield. The United States and Russia acknowledged this difficulty in 2011, and agreed to evaluate how to protect infrastructure against attacks while also establishing a special marker for innocent individuals.
No ethics policy
The advent of cyber conflict is forcing a reexamination of the ethical rules of war. Current ethical rules of war do not provide enough moral guidance for cyber operations in war and are based on assumptions that are no longer valid. Ultimately, there is a need for more comprehensive ethical standards for cyber operations, especially in today’s global environment.
Cyberwar is not a conventional form of warfare, and the potential damage it can cause cannot be compared to the effects of conventional warfare. For example, cyber operations may cause real-world effects, including the destruction of civilian infrastructure and power grids. In some cases, cyber attacks can even cause death. For example, a ransomware attack in a German hospital contributed to the death of a patient.
No damage assessment
While cyberwar is not a direct threat to the balance of power, the ability to take out communication networks and power infrastructures would cause massive disruption. However, the ability to recover quickly from such attacks would make the consequences of such actions negligible. This makes cyberwar an adjunct force to the use of terrestrial force.
While cyberattacks cause temporary damage, there is no way to quantify the overall economic, social, or political toll. While shutting down power grids and airports is expensive, shutting down communication systems is a modest investment. However, damages that take place over a longer period of time can’t be fully recovered. Nonetheless, these losses should not influence subsequent policy decisions.
No physical destruction
Cyberwarfare, also known as cybercrime, is an attack on computer networks. It aims to disrupt or disable a computer network. It can also cause damage to human users. Cyberattacks can be direct, indirect, or a combination of both. The consequences of cyberwar can be devastating to many sectors.
While the U.S. and the EU have recently banded together to support Ukraine, cyberattacks are unlikely to stay in one country. As a result, corporations and governments must monitor these attacks closely. The internet has the potential to spread cyberwarfare beyond borders. Cyberattacks are not limited to the Ukrainian conflict, so governments and corporations worldwide should monitor any attacks.
The rise of cyber conflict has prompted a reassessment of the ethical rules of war. Historically, ethical rules of war were based on assumptions that no longer apply, making them inadequate for cyber war operations. Now, the ubiquity of cyber and its uncontrollability provide three contributing factors that contribute to its unique ethical status. Moreover, cyberspace is a place of constant threat. While the ethics of threat were originally spurred by the specter of nuclear war, the concept has lost much of its momentum in the last decade.
Cyber war is a form of warfare in which one nation attacks another nation’s information systems, either directly or indirectly through denial-of-service attacks or insertion of malware. Cyberwarfare has some of the same legal and political implications as traditional warfare, but it differs from these in that it is not subject to international pacts. Nevertheless, it can severely damage a nation’s vital interests.