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Conclusion       75


On April 27, 2007, Estonia was attacked by a computer network causing widespread damage.  It is currently unclear what legal rights a state has as a victim of a cyber attack.  Even if Estonia could conclusively prove that it was Russia, for example, behind the March 2007 attack, could it respond with force or its own cyber attack?  There is a paucity of literature dealing with these questions, as well as the ethical, humanitarian, and human rights implications of information warfare (“IW”) on national and international security.  Treatments of IW outside the orthodox international humanitarian law (“IHL”) framework are nearly non-existent.  This underscores the tension between classifying cyber attacks as merely criminal, or as a matter of state survival necessitating an exclusively national security approach.    

This paper will advocate that the best way to ensure a comprehensive regime for cyber attacks is through a new international accord dealing exclusively with cyber security and its status in international law.  But until such an accord becomes politically viable, the extent to which existing treaty systems deal with cyber attacks will be ascertained.  Together, these treaties form a dual track approach to cyber attacks – one that is available for cyber attacks that do not rise to the level of an armed attack, and another that is activated once an armed attack occurs.  To that end this paper will examine the most apt analogues in international law to form an appropriate legal regime for the various types of cyber attacks – whether it is humanitarian law (laws of war), human rights law (regulation of nation states behavior), or some novel combination of

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