It’s no surprise to anyone that the US is starting to take cyberattacks seriously. Officials say that a cyberattack that results in death, injury or significant destruction, triggers the country’s right to self-defense.
This means that if a cyberattack causes a nuclear plant meltdown, affects air-traffic systems to the point where planes crash, or opens a dam above a populated area, the US would see it as an illegal use of force that's subject to international laws of war, the Washington Post informs
Harold Koh, the legal adviser of the Department of State, told an audience at a conference hosted by US Cyber Command at Fort Meade that although countries such as China didn’t agree, United Nations member states established a series of principles. One of them is that international law applies to cyberspace as well, not just the real world.
“Cyberspace is not a ‘law-free’ zone where anyone can conduct hostile activities without rules or restraint,” Koh explained.