NATO publishes a how-to manual for cyber warfare

cyberwarIn recent years, it’s common to believe that cyber warfare could act as an inevitable future of international conflict. It’s a notion that has only become more entrenched since the discoveries of various hacking and malware attacks as state-sponsored efforts. But, if the digital battleground is to take more importance in modern warfare, do the old rules regarding conflict still apply?

This isn’t an entirely hypothetical or theoretical question, and thankfully, NATO has stepped in to answer. The result is a new series of legal guidelines written by legal experts from multiple countries in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.S. Cyber Command, following an invitation by NATO’s Co-operative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence. In short, it’s the new rules of war for a new type of war.

The guidelines – which contain 95 “black letter rules” about digital warfare – took three years to write, and attempt to put online attacks into an internationally-recognized legal framework to clarify issues that still seem complicated and difficult to untangle. For example: Anyone who engages in “hackitivism” during a war can be defined as a legitimate target, according to the new rules, despite their civilian status. Colonel Kirby Abbot, an assistant legal adviser at NATO, says the manual containing the guidelines is “the most important document in the law of cyber-warfare.”

Amongst the rules laid out in the guidelines:

  • Even if a cyber attack originates from a known government network, that is not enough to classify the attack as originating from the state itself. Instead, it is “an indication that the state in question is associated with the operation.”
  • However, while “no international armed conflict has been publicly characterized as having been solely precipitated in cyberspace… cyber operations alone might have the potential to cross the threshold of international armed conflict.”
  • Targets of future state-sponsored cyber-attacks should be carefully chosen in order to avoid civilian casualties, the report warns. “In order to avoid the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population, particular care must be taken during cyber-attacks against works and installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, as well as installations located in their vicinity.” Similarly out of bounds are hospitals and other medical units are already covered by existing warfare rules.

Note that these guidelines are just that: Guidelines – and not particularly set-in-stone rules. The document is not classified as an official NATO document or rulebook, but instead just a series of independently-created and published advisories to bear in mind by the member states when considering this matter.

On one hand, there’s something surprisingly civilized about the whole thing. Conversely, if things were truly civilized, we’re not sure there is any need for this kind of thing at all.

Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.
Smart Home

These wireless security cameras are a wire-free way to protect your home

Home security cameras can give you piece of mind, but if they have wires, are limited in where you can put them. We've rounded up the best battery-operated home security cameras to give you flexibility along with your security.
Gaming

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.