The Legal Assessment of Cyber Attacks on the Federal Republic of Germany with Special Regard to Hack-Back as a Defence Measure

Cyber attacks on government institutions and information technology systems occur regularly, representing a sub­stan­tial security threat to Germany and its economic and political interests. Besides passive defence measures, the so-called ‘hack back’ can be considered an active defence measure. Here, the attacked party launches a cyber counter-attack to dissuade the attacker from their original aim. The primary objective of this doctoral project is to en­hance our understanding of the legal implications of cyber attacks. These differ from conventional security threats in that they originate from locations different from their eventual areas of impact. National borders are often crossed. Also, attacks are not only perpetrated by private individuals. States may be involved to varying degrees. All of this has consequences for threat prevention, both in fact and in law.
It is therefore necessary to clarify the legal framework for threat prevention so that security authorities can act law­fully and effectively. Applying both doctrinal analysis and statutory interpretation, this dissertation aims to promote a modern understanding of our security law that is prepared for modern threats like cyber attacks. Key findings will include a broader and deeper understanding of regulating digital threats, particularly through active defence measures. By examining cyber attacks and their established threats to democratic rule, this project rec­og­nises an evolving digital and international public security law threat engaging core facets of the Department’s research agenda.


Research outcome: doctoral dissertation at the University of Freiburg (2018–2022)
Research focus: 2. Trends: In­ter­na­tio­na­li­za­ti­on, Di­gi­ta­li­za­ti­on, and Frag­men­ta­ti­on
Project language: German

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