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So You're Telling Me There's a Chance: How the Articles on State Responsibility Could Empower Corporate Responses to State-Sponsored Cyber Attacks

The private sector (international corporations) are relentlessly subjected to cyber-attacks from hostile State or State-sponsored actors. International law currently stands in the way of allowing corporations to protect themselves, as international law prohibits corporations from responding to State hostility themselves. Corporations must rely on their communication with the government and have the government act on their behalf to act. Unfortunately, government responses are have proven “unpredictable” and “inadequate.” A solution, under International law, would be getting the State to delegate “governmental functions” to the corporation. If the state grants this power, the corporation can be recognized as a semi-public entity with the right to employ counter-measures against an aggressor state. Typically, counter measure abilities are reserved for use by a victimized state. However, a victimized state that is invoking its right to use countermeasures may empower an “entity which is not an organ of the State” to act on its behalf, granted the entity be empowered by the law of the State to “exercise functions of a public character normally exercised by State organs.” The proposed solution’s benefits and risks are briefly discussed. Lack of attribution in cyber-attacks stand in the way of full deterrence ability for corporations, but companies deserve and benefit from the right to retaliate if there is strong evidence of state sponsorship. Key Words: Corporations, Internaional Law, State Relationships, Countermeasures, Attribution, hostility
Garrie, Daniel and Reeves, Shane R.
Harvard National Security Journal
Input By: 
Austin S. Clark
Industry Focus: 
Information & Telecommunication
Internet & Cyberspace