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Cyber Warfare – from Science Fiction to Reality

The list of cyber incidents is long: hardly a day goes by without news of revelations, data breaches, denial of service attacks and unexpected power outages. Social and new media have become a jungle of intensive commercial and aggressive political targeting and disgraceful social bullying. These millions of acts and attacks, and the dangers and vulnerabilities of our interconnected systems, do not, however, equal or constitute war. The fact that States are increasingly interested in developing military cyber capabilities does not mean that they are employing them irrespective of political, economic and military contexts and conflicts.

Despite the hype around cyber military development, the vast majority of armed forces are still focussing on preliminary capabilities such as situational awareness, information security and the protection of military networks. Yet, casual employment of available national cyber capabilities comes with a risk of escalation and creates a separate zone of dangerous legal opacity where e.g. human rights may be easily breached. States need to recognize the value of rule of law, stop de­valuing international legal order with opportunistic propositions and destabilizing practises, and agree upon responsible State practices in cyberspace.

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