The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has proposed a digital emblem to mark and protect its digital infrastructure from cyber attacks, such as ransomwarein wartime.
The proposal (opens in new tab) was unveiled as part of a new research report from the humanitarian organization on its digitization as attacks such as ransomware are more common in modern conflicts.
In a report entitled “Digitization of the emblems of the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and the Red Crystals (opens in new tab)The IRC claims that in the same way the red cross symbol marks humanitarian volunteers for protection on the physical battlefield, a digital decal would identify protected facilities.
The digital war fog
The commission also alleges that “cyber operators” have suggested that a digital decal would break the “mist of digital warfare”.
To this end, the ICRC has identified a number of ways in which a digital emblem can be implemented. A DNS-based decal would associate it with a human readable domain name, while an IP-based decal would be a part of a IP address to identify protected infrastructure, as well as messages sent over a network.
It has also suggested that an “ADEM” (Authenticated Digital Emblem) system could use certificates authenticated by actors and communicate “via various internet protocols.”
And while the digital Red Cross decal is just a proposal at this point, the ICRC claims to be working with the Center for Cyber Trust (opens in new tab)Johns Hopkins University and the ITMO University of Saint Petersburg to investigate these implementations.
The ICRC also wants IT experts to develop concrete ways to protect medical and humanitarian services from digital damage during armed conflict.” It says it has partnered with the Australian Red Cross to consult cybersecurity firms, government officials, humanitarian experts and others for their views.
“With the digitization of society, cyber operations have become a reality of armed conflict,” said ICRC Director General Robert Mardini.
“Our mandate to protect the life and dignity of victims of armed conflict requires that we understand how these operations can cause harm. The ‘digital emblem’ is a concrete step to protect vital medical infrastructure and the ICRC in the digital world.”