As Salon noted last week, a group of legal experts supported by NATO released a manual in an effort to codify how international law applies to state-sponsored hacking. According to the handbook -- the Tallinn Manual -- the Stuxnet cyberattack believed to have been launched by Israel and the U.S. against Iran constitutes an "act of force," Wired noted Monday.
The Stuxnet worm targeted cascades and centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant . The attacks by Stuxnet are thoughts to have set back Tehran's nuclear program by an estimated three years, but neither U.S. nor Israeli governments have admitted to a role developing the cyberweapon.
The 20 experts who produced the study were unanimous that Stuxnet was an act of force, but were less clear about whether the cyber sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program constituted an “armed attack,” which would entitle Iran to use counterforce in self-defense. An armed attack constitutes a start of international hostilities under which the Geneva Convention’s laws of war would apply.