‘An International Attribution Mechanism for Hostile Cyber Operations’ by Professor Mike Schmitt (co-author)

Professor Mike Schmitt’s co-authored article with Professor Yuval Shany of Hebrew University entitled ‘An International Attribution Mechanism for Hostile Cyber Operations’; has been published by International Law Studies. The article is the result of an international research project organised by the Federmann Cyber Security Research Center at Hebrew University to consider the feasibility of establishing an international attribution mechanism for hostile cyber operations, as well as the usefulness of such a body. Mike and Yuval observe that, at present, states wielding significant cyber capability have little interest in creating such a mechanism. These states appear to be of the view that they can generate sufficient accountability and deterrence based on their independent technological capacity, access to expertise and to offensive (active defense) cyber tools, political clout, security alliances, and other policy tools, such as sanctions. However, countries with limited technological capacity and less ability to mobilize international support for collective attribution are more amenable to the prospect. To date, proposals to establish an international attribution mechanism have not acquired momentum. However, the article suggests that progress remains possible by focusing on the three logical constituencies for such a body—States with limited technological, intelligence, and diplomatic capacity; States interested in generating broad collective attribution of attacks perpetrated against them; and international and regional organizations operating a cyber-related sanctions regime. Such a focus, combined with greater granularity, would significantly improve the prospects for the establishment of an international attribution mechanism and its eventual utilization by the international community.