The Potential Human Cost of Cyber Operations

This report provides an account of the discussions that took place in November 2018 during a meeting of experts organized by the ICRC with the aim of moving towards a realistic assessment of the potential human cost of cyber operations.
The use of cyber operations during armed conflicts is a reality, and an increasing number of States are developing military cyber capabilities. Cyber attacks can cause not just substantial economic loss but physical damage. They can also affect the delivery of essential services to civilians, as witnessed by attacks on power grids and the health-care sector. The expert meeting’s rich discussions provided a nuanced picture of the risks that cyber operations can entail for the civilian population.