Red Cross Issues Rules of Engagement To Hacking Groups

( — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an independent humanitarian organization dedicated to humanitarian protection and assistance, basing much of its work on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other international humanitarian protocols, statutes, and laws. They have recently released rules of engagement aimed at civilian hackers who are involved in conflicts. They have expressed concern that “unprecedented numbers of people” have become involved in patriotic “cyber-gangs” since the beginning of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The 8 rules of cyber engagement by civilian hackers are based on international law and are designed to minimize the danger to civilians, including the hackers themselves. Many of these hacker groups are small and believed to be ineffectual, but some, like the IT Army of Ukraine, are quite large and have been known to target public services such as banks or railway systems. The group has pointed out that following the ICRC rules of engagement could put one side at a disadvantage and said they were not sure if they would be implementing them in the future. They have 160,000 members on their Telegram channel, and they had already decided that healthcare targets were off limits before the ICRC published their new civilian hacker guidelines.

The IT Army of Ukraine may have a point about disadvantage, as the 8th rule itself indicates that hackers should comply with the rules, even if the enemy does not. Other hacker groups, like Killnet, which boasts 90,000 supporters on their Telegram channel, challenge the ICRC’s authority to establish these rules. A representative of Anonymous Sudan, a pro-Sudan and pro-Islam hacktivist group, scoffed at the idea that these new rules are even viable, adding that breaking them in pursuit of their cause would be “unavoidable”.

The rules seem straightforward and reasonable for anyone interested in protecting the public from harm. They include bans on targeting healthcare services, civilian targets, and any digital assets that may be needed by the civilian population for survival. Rule number 6 discourages acts of terrorism, and rule number 7 forbids encouraging people to break international humanitarian laws. A member of the hacker collective Anonymous said that their group had always acted on principles that the ICRC’s new guidelines incorporate but they have “lost faith” in the organization and will not be taking direction from them.

Copyright 2023,