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Cyber Warfare



The United States Department of Defense is well aware of the use and potential use of computers and the internet to conduct cyber warfare in cyberspace as a hazard to national security as well a stage for the attack. The role of cyber warfare lawyers is unclear when the question is posed to the government of the United States. Cyber warfare lawyers are essentially being led by military lawyers who are striving to determine when a cyber attack can be categorized as an armed attack and when to authorize the usage of force as a retort.

State Department and National Security Council lawyers are helping cyber warfare lawyers apply an international cyber warfare strategy that is based on a system that works with the international “standards” in helping to prevent internet war. The CIA, Justice Department, and Air Force lawyers are telling their respective jurisdictions the restrictive reasons that exist legally that will not allow them to develop or use such weapons in a response to a cyber attack that the enemies or internet criminal use against them. This is an ongoing dilemma for cyber warfare lawyers and the U.S. government.

The Defense Department has issued some guidelines on what is considered acceptable military offensive actions in the case of cyber war, but be sure that the cyber warfare lawyers are going to review them for possible critical errors. The military must first come up with a strategy that can win the possible cyberwar, and then let the cyber warfare lawyers figure out how to keep the tactics and weapons in compliance with the current laws or even petition to change them altogether to adapt to the 21st-century battlefield.

An important issue is how to define weapons among all the tools that can be applied for the various cyber warfare activities. This problematic question makes an implication for the international armed attacks law. There are great numbers of different cyber weapons and so there are large amounts of “cyber weapon” definitions. From one point of view, any cyber tool (such as computer code or a kind of hardware equipment) can be considered as a cyber weapon, if it is possible to make digital or physical destructions using it. This definition bases on potential abilities of the tool. From another point of view, any device, computer equipment, or instructions set, which can be applied in National conflict actions with intent to damage information systems, important objects or people, and which is specially designed for it, is a cyber weapon. That means that intent to provoke damages is a defining factor for a cyber weapon.


Incidental serious injuries or even death of civilians, or as well severe damages to important civilian objects, are collateral damages. Any kind of cyber attacks, that can cause it, is strictly prohibited by the federal and international security laws.

That means each cyber warfare tools should be analyzed to understand which degree of harm it can potentially cause. Such deep analyze should include direct negative effects as well as indirect ones. These consequences should also be considered at each stage of the whole operation process. That is why there is a necessity of constant controlling and inspecting of even the smallest risks of cyber warfare attacks. There is often special skilled and well-trained personnel for these purposes. It is more difficult to accuse the offenders of the attacks if all the damages were temporary, so it is harder to prove the negative results these actions caused.

Three main groups of cyber attacks exist:

♦ In the first group, there are attacks in which differentiation between intended and collateral damages is obvious.

♦ The second group of cyber attacks includes all processes where this difference is hard or almost impossible to find out.

♦ The third group of attacks includes all of them, that are targeting all objects and people on the territory.

Some of the cyberattacks are directed to both networks and civilian people or military targets. All of them are monitored and prohibited, and participation in them leads to criminal responsibility.


Make no mistake the Department of Defense has stated that the U.S. military is ready to wage cyber war while staying in limits of the existing law of armed conflict. It has become a very complex legal issue for cyber warfare lawyers who look to keep things in the confines of the law and military commanders who defend and attack the front lines of a battle to work together to make an amicable and pragmatic solution to the very real situation at hand which is digital war.

There are many conflicting and differing theories and legal interpretations that are argued by one side or another just between cyber warfare lawyers. It would not be effective for strategists who fight the wars to come up with plans without consulting the cyber warfare lawyers who challenge any violations of the law before they implement anything. For the time is always moving forward and so are technologies and threats in the world of computers and the internet. There is no doubt that there will be debates based on the perception of the world and from where it stands and where you stand, but cooperation is a must if goals are to be accomplished now and in the future.

Most governments use computer networks or satellites in their work. When such systems become hacked, communication and operation processes can be broken or destroyed. Additionally, it can lead to serious mistakes in work of power regulation or infrastructure systems. Hacking or putting any malicious software in the system can lead to harsh consequences of the national level up to the national emergency state.

If you have any questions about cyber crime or cyber warfare issues or need a consultation with highly skilled legal professionals in cyber security law, contact the Law Office of Yelena Sharova P.C., national cybersecurity is a serious topic and should not be taken lightly. Contact our cyber warfare lawyers at one of our offices in New York.