Iranian Hacking Raises Issues about Gaps in International Legal Frameworks involving Cyber-Attacks

In late March, Microsoft reported that it had taken down 99 websites which had been used by a company referred to as Phosphorus to target the computer systems of businesses and government agencies, as well as activists and journalists involved in advocacy and reporting on issues relating to unrest in the Middle East. Microsoft obtained a federal judge’s approval on March 15 to disable the websites that it detected and had been tracking for six years. Although multiple intelligence agencies and groups pointed to Iran as the culprit, the difficulty of attributing cyber-attacks and operations to particular state actors and the lack of international legal frameworks to deal with cyber issues makes it highly likely that Iran will escape international condemnation. To begin, effective attribution of attacks to state actors is difficult, complex, and highly time consuming. Most hackers have the technical capability to cover their tracks extremely well and an attack, even if it…

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