respond with force in self-defense if the CNA was intended to directly cause physical destruction or injury.207
In addition to Article 51 protections, the UNSC is also legally able to determine whether an attack would constitute a Chapter VII threat to international peace and security.208 This power extends to calling upon member states to apply “measures not involving the use of armed forces” including the “complete or partial interruption of…telegraphic, radio, or other means of communications.”209 The U.S. Department of Defense has stated though that “A computer network attack that caused widespread damage, economic disruption, and loss of life could well precipitate action by the Security Council.”210 The U.N. though was noticeably silent regarding the attacks on Estonia.211 The fact that such action was not forthcoming in the aftermath of the Estonian CNA speaks to the continuing legal uncertainty of cyber attacks in the international system.
The DOD has argued that attacks that cannot be shown to be state-sponsored generally do not justify acts of self-defense in another nation’s territory. The general expectation is that a nation whose interests are damaged by the private conduct of an individual who acts within the territory of another nation will notify the government of that nation and request its cooperation in putting a stop to such conduct.212 The appropriate response when a state, and not a private individual, is behind such an act
208 U.N. Charter art. 1, para. 2.
209 U.N. Charter art. 41 (According to the article, “these may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”).
210 DOD, supra note 33.
211 The View from the UN, The Baltic Times, Dec. 5, 2007, available at: . Last visited: 06/12/2008.
212 DOD, supra note 33.