Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Cyberweapons and cyberwarfare are one of the most dangerous innovations of recent years, and a significant threat to national security. Cyberweapons can imperil economic, political, and military systems by a single act, or by multifaceted orders of effect, with wide-ranging potential consequences. Cyberwarfare occupies an ambiguous status in the conventions of the laws of war. This book addresses Ethical and legal issues surrounding cyberwarfare by considering whether the Laws of Armed Conflict apply to cyberspace and the ethical position of cyberwarfare against the background of our generally recognized moral traditions in armed conflict. The book explores these moral and legal issues and examines the key principles of jus in bello to determine how they might be applied to cyber conflicts. The distinction between civilian and combatant in this context and the level of causation necessary to elicit a response are studied and the specific operational realities implicated by particular regulatory regimes are analyzed.


cyberweapons, cyberwarfare, national security, cyber attack, causation, proximate cause, regulatory regimes, laws of war

Publication Title

Cyber War: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts

Publication Citation

in Cyber War: Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts (Jens David Ohlin, Kevin Govern and Claire Finkelstein eds., Oxford, 2015; pubd online Apr. 2015).