The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has released a set of rules for civilian hackers involved in conflicts in an effort to establish norms and hold such groups accountable for potential war crimes. These rules aim to clarify the line between civilians and combatants in cyberspace, as the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in unprecedented numbers of civilian hackers becoming involved in the war. The ICRC’s eight rules for “hacktivists” focus on minimizing the impact of cyber operations on civilians and critical infrastructure. However, it is uncertain how feasible it will be to enforce these rules given the ease with which groups and individuals can launch cyberattacks and the lack of adherence to international laws by stateless groups involved in the conflict. The ICRC’s effort should be applauded, as these rules may serve as a foundation for internationally accepted and enforceable rules in the future, potentially leading to deterrence and the avoidance of unnecessary damage and harm in future conflicts.


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