Lawful State Responses to Low-Level Cyber-Attacks

In: Nordic Journal of International Law
Anders Henriksen University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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The article discusses the sources of international law that may justify a state to respond to harmful interferences in cyberspace that occur outside times of armed conflict and that are not sufficiently serious to merit a rersort to self-defence under the un Charter. The focus is primarily aimed at the more immediate measures a targeted state may adopt in order to bring on-going harmful cyber-activities to a halt. The article opens with a discussion of the application of the traditional principles of sovereignty to activities in cyberspace and subsequently analyses how the principles of countermeasures may be applied to various forms of harmful cyber-incidents that fall below the threshold for triggering a right to self-defence. The article also examines the extent to which a plea of necessity may be invoked in order to justify the use of immediate defensive measures against cyber-attacks that may have an effect on other states.

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