Workshop 2019
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Report: Ethics of Hacking Back

Report: Ethics of Hacking Back

Patrick Lin

It is widely believed that a cyberattack victim should not “hack back” against attackers. Among the chief worries are that hacking back is (probably) illegal and immoral; and if it targets foreign networks, then it may spark a cyberwar between states. However, these worries are largely taken for granted: they are asserted without much argument, without considering the possibility that hacking back could ever be justified. This policy paper offers both the case for and against hacking back—examining six core arguments—to more carefully consider the practice.

Six arguments

  1. Argument from the rule of law
  2. Argument from self-defense
  3. Argument from attribution
  4. Argument from escalation
  5. Argument from public health
  6. Argument from practical effects

Please click here for the full report, funded by the US National Science Foundation.