Dr Kubo Mačák at the 11th Annual Conference on Cyber Conflict in Tallinn, Estonia

New toolkit to provide guidance on international cyber law

International lawyers and cyber experts have worked together to give new guidance on how countries may respond to malicious cyber operations such as computer hacking aimed at interfering with foreign elections.

The Cyber Law Toolkit is designed to help legal advisors working for governments around the world to respond to hostile acts carried out online by making it easier to access clear legal advice.

Although there is a growing consensus that international law applies to activities online, there is uncertainty about how precisely its rules should be interpreted. The problem is compounded because many countries are unwilling to express their legal position on these matters.

The Cyber Law Toolkit fills an important gap in this regard by developing existing research and guidance found in publications like the Tallinn Manual and complementing it with case studies showing how the law applies to actual cyber incidents.

The Toolkit is organized around fictitious scenarios so people can see how the law would be applied to situations resembling, for example, the 2014 Sony hack or the 2016 DNC email leak.

Dr Kubo Mačák, from the University of Exeter Law School, who led the project, said: “The Toolkit will help legal practitioners from governments and militaries around the world keep up with international law as it applies to cyber operations. It will support decision-making by allowing users to easily access real-life scenarios and up-to-date analysis by academics in the area.

“The Toolkit pulls together much of the available research while applying it to case studies that are inspired by actual cyber incidents like Stuxnet, WannaCry or NotPetya.”

The Toolkit, launched last week at the 11th Annual Conference on Cyber Conflict in Tallinn, Estonia, is an interactive resource that is intended to be continuously developed and updated.

The Toolkit is the product of a yearlong project supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Partner institutions include the University of Exeter, NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), and the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA).

The project team consists of Dr Kubo Mačák (Exeter), General Editor; Mr Tomáš Minárik (CCDCOE), Managing Editor; and Ms Taťána Jančárková (NCISA), Scenario Editor. The individual scenarios and the Toolkit have been reviewed by a team of more than 20 external experts and peer reviewers.

The Toolkit is available free of charge at: https://cyberlaw.ccdcoe.org/. Contact the project team at cyberlaw@exeter.ac.uk.

Date: 10 June 2019

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