The ability to reach out, with a few keystrokes or a couple lines of code, through the interconnected world of cyberspace and create militarily advantageous effects 10,000 miles away has changed warfare as previously conceived, perhaps more than any other advancement in any other domain of war. Cyber weapons are weapons, and whatever law applies to conventional weapons equally applies to cyber weapons. Long before cyber operations were even science fiction, there was much debate over what constituted a use of force that would justify force in response. In many ways, the debate over what constitutes cyber-attacks has been pasted on top of that older debate, but the unique form of harm that cyber-attacks cause adds novel questions to these older debates. Lacking a physical instrument, yet possessing the potential to cause greater harm, cyber-attacks seem simultaneously less and more "forceful." How one views that dichotomy, coupled with how they generally view the Charter regarding conventional force, has led to varying answers to the salient question: what is the threshold of cyber force required to justify the use of counterforce in self-defense?
Self-Defense to Cyber Force: Combatting the Notion of 'Scale and Effect'
, 36 American University International Law Review 697
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