The law of war is the subset of public international law that governs armed conflicts. It includes criteria for determining whether the use of force is justifiable (jus ad bellum), as well as rules governing the conduct of warfare (jus in bello), also known as international humanitarian law (IHL).
Scholars continue to debate whether existing international law principles—including those that govern warfare—are sufficient to address cyber attacks or whether a new legal framework is needed to manage conflicts in cyberspace. Although various proposals for drafting a cyberspace treaty have been floated, none have borne fruit, and it is unlikely that a new treaty will emerge any time soon.
Listed below are tools for researching international law principles that are relevant to the management of cyber conflicts, as well as the Tallinn Manual, which applies these principles to cyberspace.
The Tallinn Manual, published in March 2013, is the first comprehensive and authoritative attempt to analyze the application of international law to cyber warfare. It was produced by an international team of legal scholars at the request of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence located in Tallinn, Estonia. The manual represents the views of the authors in their personal capacities and does not reflect the official policy of NATO or its member states. A follow-up report, the Tallinn Manual 2.0, was released in February 2017. Tallinn 2.0 broadens the scope to assess how international legal principles can be applied to malevolent cyber operations that do not rise to the level of an armed attack. Work on the Tallinn Manual 3.0 is underway.