U.S. Actively Engaged in Cyber-Warfare

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The U.S. government is preparing to go on the offensive against the growing threat of cyber-warfare, a New York Times investigation has determined. Like the Cold War, during which American officials planned not only defensive but also “first strike” measures to minimize the threat from nuclear weapons, the Defense Department is preparing covert computer operations against hackers in Russia and China, and are targeting terrorist computer networks as well.

Already the U.S. military has employed cyber-warfare tactics against al Qaeda in Iraq by hacking into one of its computers to trick members into an ambush. Government computer specialists also tried to infiltrate computers used by Iran’s nuclear weapons program to slow down the clandestine project.
New cyber missions underway include the Pentagon’s development of a highly classified replica of the Internet so the government can determine how foreign enemies might try to bring down the nation’s computer-driven airports, energy grid, financial markets, and telecommunications systems. Defense officials are also working on ways to launch pre-emptive strikes against hackers planning to unleash “botnets”—viruses that have the ability to takeover thousands of computers across the world.
President Barack Obama plans to expand upon last year’s $17 billion program adopted by Congress, and appoint a new White House official to coordinate federal cyber-warfare activities. A new report, “Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities,” will be released on April 29 by The National Research Council.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
U.S. Steps Up Effort on Digital Defenses (by David E. Sanger, John Markoff and Thom Shanker, New York Times)


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