NATO Cyberwarfare Tallinn Manual: Hackers are Legitimate Targets for a Counterstrike

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The 302 pages long manual seemingly demands a measured involvement from countries engaged in cyberwarfare with a response that is one-on-one and doesn’t involve use of arms and ammunition that may lead to human casualties. Retaliating to a hacking attack is appropriate when the state has itself been at the receiving end of a cyber attack at national level. But, the manual insists that such retaliation shouldn’t involve use of guns and bombs up until the digital warfare has led to human loss.

Tallinn manual also stresses that if a nation has the capability to carry out a hacking campaign against another country, it doesn’t imply that a pre-emptive strike is allowed up until there is a definitive and ‘imminent’ threat that would justify such a strike. The creators of the manual have also advised that nations should not attack hospitals, dams, and nuclear power stations thereby ensuring minimum loss of life.

Another thing that the authors have noted is that hackers who are involved in such attacks are legitimate targets and that it wouldn’t be against the law and that they would be legitimate targets for a counterstrike.

NATO hasn’t adopted the manual as a formal policy and it remains to be seen whether the member nations are going to adopt the manual or not.


Ravi is the founder of Parity Media and currently acting as an editor of ParityNews.com. He is a technology enthusiast with keen interest in information security. Ravi has over 6 years of experience and is keen on raising general awareness about technology in society.