Software and computer systems are a standard target of intelligence collection in an age where everything from your phone to your sneakers has been turned into a connected computing device. A modern government intelligence organization must maintain access to some software vulnerabilities into order to target these devices. However, the WannaCry ransomware and NotPetya attacks have called attention to the perennial flipside of this issue—the same vulnerabilities that the U.S. government uses to conduct this targeting can also be exploited by malicious actors if they go unpatched.
As our lives become increasingly dependent upon computer systems and cyber technologies grow ever more sophisticated, the internet has emerged as the new battleground of the 21st century. From criminals' stealing credit card and social security number information to foreign governments' hacking into American companies’ information systems, cyber attacks can take on myriad forms, prompting the government to formulate new measures to protect online security. Since cyberwarfare knows no territorial bounds, ensuring cybersecurity will also require international cooperation and an updated understanding of jus ad bellum, as it applies to cyber attacks.