Written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig
In recent years, cyber attacks on a serious scale have become a matter of concern to states, due to the threat they can pose to national security, but also a potential foreign policy and military tool to be added to existing options in their arsenals. While international law is still struggling with defining norms on state actions in cyberspace, the latter is now increasingly viewed as a fifth domain of warfare.
Although, for the time being, no cyber attack is known to have provoked death or physical damage to human beings, an ever growing number of states around the world are preparing for conflict in the cyber domain, and, in this context, have been developing national doctrines, cyber-defence strategies and defensive and offensive capabilities for cyber warfare.
The definitions surrounding ‘cyber war’ and ‘cyber defence’ are still widely debated, and indeed have become a burgeoning topic for international legal scholars, along with governments and international organisations. With little agreement among the major countries preparing their own cyber warfare capabilities, there are not yet rules comparable to those for conventional warfare. A number of EU Member States are amongst those developing their capabilities, while the EU’s own Defence Agency is also working on projects to augment cyber-defences in the Union. NATO too is involved in efforts to develop defensive capabilities.