Tuesday, November 24, 2015

URSP Student Rebecca Lee Defines an Armed Attack in the Context of Cyber Warfare

Hi, my name is Rebecca Lee and I’m a senior majoring in Global Affairs and minoring in Information Technology and Japanese Studies. This semester, I have the privilege to do my research under the mentorship of Dr. Jim Jones, a professor in the Computer Forensics program within the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. As a Global Affairs major, I have been able to take classes in a variety of different disciplines such as International Politics, Economics, Conflict Resolution, and History to understand global issues and events that are currently going on around the world. After learning about cyber terrorism and warfare in Professor Self’s Geography of Insurgency class during my junior year, I became specifically interested in how cyber attacks are influencing nation-state relations. My research topic involves studying existing international law doctrines to answer my research question “Was Stuxnet considered an armed attack?” In order to answer the question, I will need to draw upon existing legal doctrines to understand what an armed attack to study the 2010 Stuxnet cyber attack. Currently, I am in the process of developing my own definition of what an armed attack is from my readings. On a weekly basis, I spend time writing notes and reading up on existing literature on the topic. From one of my readings this week, I discovered that many legal scholars are arguing that international law doctrines such as the Law of Armed Conflict and the UN Charter Article 51 may possibly not address if cyber attacks are considered armed attacks.

After I graduate, I hope to work for the State Department or in the Intelligence Community to study and work towards developing the legal framework to properly address cyber attacks. As of this moment, there is no clear criteria for determining whether a cyberattack is considered a criminal act or an act of terrorism. I hope to work with policymakers or legal scholars in this particular field to find solutions. Therefore, I believe my current research on this topic will help me to achieve my long-term goals.