Perfidy in Cyberwarfare

Authored by: Neil C. Rowe

Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415539340
eBook ISBN: 9780203107164
Adobe ISBN: 9781136261008


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Perfidy is an important concept in the laws of warfare. The term covers a category of ruses in which a military force impersonates neutral parties such as the Red Cross to obtain a tactical or strategic advantage. 2 Ruses and impersonation are not generally outlawed by the laws of war; impersonation of an adversary can be justifiable in some situations. But impersonation of neutral parties is generally prohibited because it can hurt both sides of a conflict, causing warfare to deteriorate to chaos. This is because conflicting parties depend on neutral parties to provide food, clothing, shelter, and information. Members of civilian organizations can be especially important in providing humanitarian assistance, evacuating civilians from the area of conflict, providing communications to nonmilitary organizations, and providing connections to what exists as government. These things are not the job of military organizations and it is unreasonable to expect military organizations to provide them. So impersonation of civilians lowers the trust in people appearing to be civilians, making it more difficult for civilians to act freely, and increasing the chances of them being harmed. 3

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