Years ago, most developed nations agreed to establish and follow a basic rule set when it comes to warfare: no chemical weapons, no torture, and no civilian targets. However, as tactics have turned from the battlefield to the digital plane, no such boundaries exist in cyber space. In February of this year, Antonio Guterres, Secretary of the United Nations, put out a call for the development of cyber warfare rules. But with many countries failing to even acknowledge their part in digital attacks, is the establishment of cyber warfare guidelines a pie-in-the-sky idea?
The Growing Threat of Cyber Warfare
Cyber warfare tactics and state-sponsored digital attacks are an increasingly common threat to global welfare. China has been accused of stealing intellectual property, North Korea has threatened to hack multinational corporations, and the United States may have affected nuclear equipment with malware. With 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies indicted in relation to tampering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, leaders are acknowledging the widespread use of cyber tactics to destabilize other countries.
As worldwide leaders recognize the dangers of cyber warfare, many are hoping global rules will help minimize what could be a far-reaching civilian impact. Successful massive cyber-attacks could paralyze military communications and artillery, affect utility infrastructure, and wipe out financial resources, among other dangers. Many leaders feel that an international response to cyber-attacks is necessary now, however, united global geopolitics are historically a slow-moving endeavor, and the establishment of an international legal framework for cyber warfare tactics will likely take time to develop. In the meantime, organizations around the world must fend for themselves.
Protecting Your Organization in the Global Cyber Sphere
No organization, government, or business appears to be too small or large to be safe from cyber warfare. Until - and perhaps even after - global rules of acceptable cyber conduct are established, each entity must be vigilant about their security posture and monitoring. Not long ago, physical systems such as cameras, alarms, and simple locks were enough. Just as the Geneva Convention remains necessary but must be expanded to include digital threats, companies need to protect at-risk digital assets through round-the-clock real-time monitoring, detection, and alerting of security threats to ensure your company doesn’t become a cyber casualty.