Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


Cyber Attacks, cyber crimes


This essay, which contains a broad ranging overview of several important issues raised by the recent number of cyber attacks in Canada and elsewhere, begins with a definition of cyberspace and cyber war. It is followed by a brief survey of some cyber attacks that have occurred in Canada and elsewhere in recent years. The first part addresses the question whether present rules of international law applicable to armed attacks using kinetic weapons apply to the wide notion of cyber attacks by a state actor against the government and critical civilian infrastructures of another state and concludes that they do. However, some grey zones still exist which need to be clarified. Not all cyber attacks are of the same gravity and present international law rules were adopted before the age of the Internet. Today, states that are more dependent on highly advanced technology are subject to greater risks and in turn demand greater protective measures.

The last part of the essay is concerned with cyber attacks as cyber crimes when carried out by non-state actors, mostly from a Canadian law point of view. The conclusion lists a number of proposals to address the present dangers posed by cyber attacks on the international and Canadian levels.