International Law in Cyberspace Strategies: Formalizing Key Terrain

  • September 17, 2016
  • Ms. Alice Y. Goodson

The use of cyberspace capabilities during peacetime by state and non-state actors is having a disruptive effect on the international system and the community has varying views on how to deal with these issues. The lack of technical and legal limitations threaten key cyberspace terrain and offers state actors with the political will and technical capability a way to achieve the strategic advantage against an adversary. Cyber operations conducted against a state’s critical infrastructure could lead to misinterpretations that result in conflict escalation from the cyberspace domain to traditional air, land, or sea. This paper recommends the international community collaborate to define international characteristics for key cyberspace terrain; develop standards that ensure states provide timely technical attribution to states accused of cyberwarfare; and create guidelines to verify state intentions in order to increase understanding, promote fairness, and decrease the chances of conflict escalation.