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1 Discussion: Cyber Espionage

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A good deal of cyber law scholars’ studies have been focused on the obligations of nation states in relation to one another regarding “use of force” in cyber space. In reality, most cyber attacks today involve a lower level of cyber operation – a sub-war level of conflict. This level of attack would include such actions as degradation or theft of information, disruption of communications, or possibly even the destruction of certain capabilities. When the U.S. suffers such an attack, a response may be in order. The type of response permitted is based on many factors, including, but not limited to, such things as existing agreements and treaties, the scope of the cyber attack, and the magnitude of its effect.

Decisions regarding the application of law to cyber operations and what an appropriate response would look like affects national security in that both decisions can have a large role in shaping the economic world. Developing law to govern economic competition in the cyber world is central to maintaining order and providing stability. The law which applies in the physical world does not always easily or effectively translate to the cyber realm. So what is and should be allowed in terms of a state response to one of the most common forms of cyber attack – economic espionage?


  • Think about Catherine Lotrainte’s suggested method for enforcing the rights of victim states against economic espionage.
    • Is the author’s suggested method viable?
      • Why or why not?
  • Scrutinize her claim (in Part III) that “there is a legally binding norm of non-intervention that reaches the kind of non-forcible economic influence that economic espionage represents” which is poorly understood.
  • Given the nature of the cyber domain, does the norm of non-intervention apply?
  • What additional rules might be required to supplement existing norms?

2 Reflective Response: Could Stuxnet Mean War? (PLG1)


In June 2016, NATO “officially” recognized cyberspace as a fifth operational domain – joining land, sea, air, and space. While by mid-2014, NATO had affirmed that a cyberattack could trigger an Article 5 response by NATO countries, what exactly would constitute the level of cyberattack triggering such a response is something no one has agreed upon. How this question is answered will have far-reaching effects. Whatever definition the U.S. agrees upon will be applied to the U.S.’s actions as well as actions committed against the U.S. For instance, it is interesting to consider how the Stuxnet intrusion on Iran’s nuclear program would be viewed.

Considered the first known cyber-weapon, Stuxnet targeted the Iranian nuclear program using a subtle and well-designed mechanism.


You have been asked to advise a Senator on the committee investigating the United States’ involvement in Stuxnet. The senator is interested in understanding what laws, if any, the U.S. may have violated and what response by Iran could be legally permissible.

Once you have read Articles A and B, answer the Discussion questions 3(b), 3(c), 3(e), 4(b), 5(a), 6(a), and 6(f) to help the senator understand the situation. Use both law and policy to formulate your response.


Use current APA Style formatting for your written assignment, citations, and references.