After three years' work, and undisclosed costs, a team of two-dozen NATO-funded legal experts has completed a set of guidelines, the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare
Okay. So far so good. Except for the bloody 'C' word. But that is mere reportage, not their fault. Here's where it goes wrong:
on how to deal with hostile attacks on a country's computer systems
Ah, no. Not quite. It is a bit more than that. Journowankers may abuse the term "cyber warfare" for everything from simple criminality to Anonymous to Foreign and Hostile Intelligence Services but, here, it is being used explicitly. In terms of the conduct of military and para-military operations over the inter-tubes.
And, the Tallinn manual covers a lot more than simply dealing with hostile attacks. And this is where they (PE) get it badly wrong in their punch-line:
So there you have it: if your country finds itself under cyber-attack from the other side of the world, the first and most important thing is to find out what they are wearing.
No. If your country is going to conduct an attack, then it needs to be soldiers in uniform (update) if you want it to be covered by the international law of armed conflict**. There is no legal exception for 'cyber'. Simples. Too simple, clearly.
* Once you realise that they are a bunch of soft-left Islingtonia dinner-party habitues. Therefore are prime useful idiots for the LHTDs of this world.
** There is no applicable or agreed law on the conduct of intelligence operations. They tend to be covered by the law of the countries operated by. In countries operated in, active intelligence officers are usually acting as criminals, although they may have diplomatic immunity..