Pentagon Classifies Cyber-Attack as Act of War

Thursday, June 02, 2011
(graphic:Radio Free Penzance)
Having already been the victim of hackers of foreign origin, the Department of Defense has prepared a new doctrine declaring cyber-attacks an act of war that can warrant a conventional military response.
The development of the new cyber strategy has been likened to the effort of the early 1950s when military planners and administration officials grappled with how to respond to threats of nuclear attack. What eventually became known as a policy of deterrence involved varying levels of response to discourage adversaries, namely the former Soviet Union, from ever striking the U.S. or its allies with warheads.
The Obama administration is crafting its own multiple-choice options for handling future cyber-attacks that could range from economic sanctions to full-on military assault. Hacking attempts would not have to be solely directed at the Pentagon to warrant the engagement of air or ground forces by the U.S. For instance, a crippling cyber-attack on the nation’s energy supply system could produce a violent response.
“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” a military official told The Wall Street Journal.
One stumbling block to engaging military forces would be assurance of knowing just where a cyber assault originated from. In an world where hacking utilizes servers around the world to obscure the identity of hackers, officials could find themselves lacking the smoking gun to pin blame on a foreign government or organization.
Whatever U.S. government officials are or aren’t saying publically, it is clear that the United States is already fully engaged in cyber-warfare. China is a nation where all computer activity is monitored by the government. Hackers of Chinese origin have attacked the computers of government agencies and defense contractors. Although it has attracted less media coverage, there is an unspoken acknowledgement that the U.S. cooperated with Israel in a sophisticated attack on Iran’s nuclear program.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Cyber Combat: Act of War (by Siobhan Gorman and Julian Barnes, Wall Street Journal)
Pentagon to Consider Cyberattacks Acts of War (by David Sanger and Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times)
Chinese Government Hackers Gone Wild (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
U.S. Actively Engaged in Cyber-Warfare (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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