back to article Red Cross seeks digital equivalent of its emblems to mark some tech as off-limits in war

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) wants to devise a digital equivalent of its emblems (the red cross and red crescent), to signify that certain digital resources are protected and must not be targeted during cyberwarfare. "For more than 150 years, protective emblems like the red cross have been used to convey …

  1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    warning: Pedantry

    The Swiss flag is square. It is one of two square flags that I am aware of (the other being that of Vatican City).

    You had all the keys on the keyboard, how could ye get the flag of the Red Cross wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: warning: Pedantry

      I'm surprised more aren't square, I mean, it's a big plus...

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: warning: Pedantry

        No need to get cross about it.

        1. Halfmad

          Re: warning: Pedantry

          First time I've come across this.

          Unintentionally too, I'm off to the doctors to see why.

    2. Mr F&*king Grumpy

      Re: warning: Pedantry

      More to the point, the Red Cross emblem is, er, a Red Cross on a white background. So why show the Swiss flag?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Super Secret Double Pedantry

        The red cross prefers that the emblem is only used to mark actual red cross stuff - video games (CoD I think? among others) have been asked to remove the symbol from the game because it should only be used in emergencies.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    an emblem to signify that certain digital resources are protected ...

    .... and must not be targeted during cyberwarfare.

    Might I suggest something traditionally iconic, and used here on El Reg oft ironically and for added theatre and/or warning of possible irregular danger ...... as per the icon accompanying this post. :-)

    However suggest any emblematisation would be super effective in deterrence of cyber shenanigans is surely a nonsense which will be heeded only by cultish followers in a field of dreamers and not leaders and realists of and in virtual domain spaces ..... which be real spooky surreal extraterrestrial places in which the exercise and experimentation and exploitation of Absolute Command and Remote Control with the Total Information Awareness Tools and/or Weapons of an Advanced Intelligence Race are minimum default requirement for Live Driver Participation in Future Project and Program Directions and Presentations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: an emblem to signify that certain digital resources are protected ...

      For whoever it was who downvoted a man from mars.

      What they are saying in their own slightly screwy way is that people who are hacking to cause damage, really don't care who the target is, as their morals are already lacking to be doing it in the first place!

      1. NightFox

        Re: an emblem to signify that certain digital resources are protected ...

        But for nation-state attacks (which this seems to be aimed at), wouldn't the same principles apply to physical assets 'protected' by a red cross/crescent - yet that seems to work well enough for it to still be considered viable even though the modern manifestation of warfare is very different to what it was 150 years ago?

      2. Martin Summers

        Re: an emblem to signify that certain digital resources are protected ...

        "For whoever it was who downvoted a man from mars."

        Downvoted because it's mostly senseless bot crap. I'm sure it's feelings won't be hurt, although it does reply in defence of itself when faced with criticism which is mildly entertaining. As with all aManFromMars posts, read it all twice and then try and say it made complete sense.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Which option?

    Of the three suggested options, the third (Authenticated Digital Emblem) seems the least complex to implement and also to have the least chance of side effects resulting from amendment of protocols everyone else uses.

    Whether combatants will respect such indicators is another matter. Quite apart from any possible intentional disregard, it's quite likely that developers of attack tools may simply fail to code for recognition of them through carelessness. War commonly breaks all rules despite the "rules of war".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Which option?

      War has rules? Who knew it?

      Except for 'destroying your opponent by whatever means necessary', what other rules are there? Oh, wait, that's politics, not war. My bad.

      1. Sam Haine

        Even wars have rules

        Wars do indeed have rules.

        ICRC: Even wars have rules

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Even wars have rules

          Yeah, on paper. And those rules are very handy for the victor.

    2. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Which option?

      The first two options ("A DNS-based emblem" and ... "embedding semantics – for example a specific sequence of numbers – in IP addresses") are technically ludicrous (especially the second one), trivial to spoof, and trivial to bypass. The third one might be practicable and trustworthy, but as others have said, is no more likely to be protected against attack than, say, a hospital in Ukraine. At least, though, it might make things a little easier for war crimes investigators.

      A better idea all round is to make these sites intrinsically secure...

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I doubt cyberscums would respect this rule, as hospitals are too often voluntarily targeted during a war

    On the principle, it"s a good thing that such a statement is written and signed by as many countries as possible. However in reality it may be like talking to a wall.

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Red cross emblems work because the known aggressors understand that any attack on a humanitarian vehicle/building will land them in trouble if they end up on the losing side, not from any basic moral decency.

      It's unlikely that digital equivalents would deter the anonymous scum who know that there's a negligible chance of being identified, let alone prosecuted.

  5. MiguelC Silver badge

    Re: "Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, Moscow sees attacks on digital infrastructure as an acceptable tactic – even civilian infrastructure like satellite broadband services if they're seen to aid an enemy"

    Also they're attacking purely civilian infrastructure like energy and water supply systems, as they did hospitals, schools and places marked as refuges (can anyone forget about the Mariupol theatre's bombing?) so why would they care about avoiding targetting civilian or humanitarian digital assets?

    1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

      Much like America's bombing of the infrastructure of Iraq. It was near genocidal. Utterly murderous. And illegal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward



          the list goes on

          1. Excused Boots

            Indeed, but just because 'bad shit' was done in the past, it justifies it being done now by 'the other side'?

            It would be nice to think that we might have all moved on a bit by now - or am I just being hopelessly naive and idealistic?

  6. NeilPost Silver badge

    AirTag in a Red Cross luggage/case holder?

    AirTag (like thing) in a Red Cross case to hold it ??

    I have mine in a blue case with a clear plastic cover on a key ring or in my backpack.

    They’ll know where their stuff is too.

  7. Aussie Doc


    Maybe I'm too naïve or just a cynic.

    "We <badcyberguys> have taken down your cybery infrastructure but didn't touch your digital emblemy stuff.

    Now do this/send us <some demand or other> so it stays that way."

    Really, unless EVERYBODY plays by the same rules it just seems to be like a blunt pencil - pointless.

    Still a sad state of affairs all round.

    War and hate really sucks.


    A tired old Digger

  8. jfm

    Red Cross protection of tech assets

    So, a mechanism similar to RFC 3514, but with the opposite intent? It could be called the do-no-evil bit.

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