Research Projects Contact Information

The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4 (visiting address: Yliopistonkatu 3)
FI-00014 UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140

intlaw-institute(at)helsinki.fi







Computer Network Attacks and the Law of Armed Conflict

Technology is an essential part of society in the Information Age. Warfare has always had a technological dimension. In the era of information and the interconnected world, the critical infrastructure of nations has become increasingly reliant upon computer networks: by using the methods of computer network attacks many critical functions of a State could be damaged. This has raised a discussion related to States' national and economic security concerning a new battlefield, warfare in cyberspace.

Research on Computer Network Attacks began in January 2009 and its findings will be published in December 2009. The study aims at clarifying one new facet of technology: computer network attacks, from the framework of the law of armed conflict by asking if the existing law of armed conflict, the main parts of which have their origins in the legacies of two World Wars, applies to computer network attacks. All in all, can this regulation even be applied to current conflicts of the 21st century's Information Age? And if it can, what is the applicable scope of the law of armed conflict regulations? Moreover, the study addresses the questions of the perpetrators of the computer network attacks in the context of the law of armed conflict, what targets can be attacked with the means and methods of computer network attacks and how these attacks should be conducted under the laws of armed conflict.

The project was granted funding by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.


Researcher:
Piia Palojärvi, LL.M.

Keywords: Computer network attacks, information warfare, the law of armed conflict, international humanitarian law, attack.

Publication: Palojärvi Pia, Battle in Bits and Bytes: Computer Network Attacks and the Law of Armed Conflict. Erik Castrén Institute Research Reports 27/2009.

The book will be available in Bookstore Tiedekirja from February 10th 2010 (e-mail: tiedekirja(at)tsv.fi, tel. + 358-(0)9-635 177, fax. + 358-(0)9-635 017).

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