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Cyberwarfare: How the Digital Revolution Can Change the Rules of Engagement

macgyverhh/iStock

macgyverhh/iStock

By Adam Henschke

When does a cyberattack become an act of war, and how can governments protect its citizens from cyberattacks on civil infrastructure that is also a strategic military target?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The social revolution brought about by information technologies has changed the ways many of us live. Not so long ago we’d be reading this article in a magazine, but now you could also be reading this on a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

These changes reach far deeper than the ways we consume entertainment: relationships, healthcare and even governments are rapidly evolving. As we become increasingly dependent on information technologies, the threat of cyberwar has the potential to make us targets of cyber-attack even though we’re thousands of kilometres from any war zone.

In an effort to better understand the social implications of cyberwar, we can ask a series of questions to get a better idea of just what “cyberwar” means. What is new and what is just a continuation of things we’ve faced in the past? Would a cyber-attack count as a reason to use military force, or are cyber-attacks different to the conventional use of force? And should a country reduce the prospect of civilian harms by making its own cyber-infrastructure a target for attack?

A first and vitally important question is whether a cyber-attack counts as an armed attack. In discussions about justified use of military force, there must a justifying cause. That is, you simply can’t use your military to attack another country or people without some cause. Article 51 of The United Nations...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.