these and other treaty systems. In framing this regime, it will be argued that cyber attacks represent a threat to international peace and security as daunting and horrific as nuclear war. Yet the nuclear non-proliferation model is not a useful analogy since the technology necessary to conduct IW is already widespread in the international community. Instead, other analogies will be evoked including: communications and cyber law, space law, and the law of the sea, among others. The main failings of existing international treaties that touch on cyber law though are that most do not carry enforcement provisions. Nor do they specify how the frameworks are morphed or fall away entirely during an armed attack. Nevertheless, regardless of whether or not cyber attacks fall below the threshold of an armed attack these bodies of law have a role to play in forming an appropriate regime. The cyber attack on Estonia in March, 2007 will be used by way of a case study.
On April 27, 2007, Estonia was attacked. Only four weeks into his position, Estonian Defense minister Jaak Aaviksoo was besieged by his aids. In a matter of hours, the online portals of Estonia’s leading banks were brought down. All of the principal newspapers stopped functioning. Government communication was disrupted. An enemy had invaded and was assaulting dozens of targets across the country. This was not all accomplished though by a traditional nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon of mass destruction (“WMD”). Nor was it the result of a classical terrorist attack or an invading army. It was all done by a computer network.
Nevertheless, the effects of this assault were potentially just as disastrous as a conventional offensive on this, the most wired country in Europe, popularly known as “eStonia.”2 By 2007, Estonia had instituted an e-government in which ninety percent of all bank services, and even parliamentary elections, were carried out via the internet.3 Estonians file their taxes online, and use their cell phones to shop and pay for parking. The country is saturated in free Wi-Fi, while Skype, the free internet phone company
2 Joshua Davis, Hackers Take Down the Most Wired Country in Europe, Wired Magazine, Aug. 21, 2007 (detailing the assault on Estonia by a rouge computer network).
3 Estonia hit by ‘Moscow cyber war’, BBC News, May 17, 2007.