Little controversy exists regarding whether the use of chemical and biological weapons should be viewed as forms of force within the classic meaning of armed attacks in international law. Much more contentious to date has been the question of in which box to place IW, since it similarly poses the threat of widespread destruction but with unconventional tactics; the same end with modern means. Cyber attacks that directly and intentionally result in non-combatant deaths and destruction do breach modern prohibitions on the use of force.88 However, the literature to date has been silent as to what is the appropriate legal analogy to use as a baseline from which to consider regulatory responses to IW. It will be argued that the broad-based and extraordinary nature of a cyber attack is most analogous in its scope and results to nuclear warfare. Already, nations such as Russia and the U.S. have compared the threat posed by IW to a nuclear exchange. Yet non-proliferation is not a useful option to curtail the spread of IW capabilities since nearly 120 nations and millions of people already have the necessary capabilities to launch IW.89 Thus, other international law regimes must be considered to develop an appropriate international response to this dire threat in the absence of a comprehensive international treaty on cyber security.
Both Russia and the United States have publicly made statements regarding the similarity and necessary military response to IW and nuclear war. The Russians have stated: “An attack against the telecommunications and electronic power industries of Russia would, by virtue of its catastrophic consequences, completely overlap with the
89 Though there is some question about the scale of IW necessary to bring about effects analogous to a nuclear war.