Cyber War: The New Frontier

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war. That opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force, for the first time, reports Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal.

The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.

Recent attacks on the Pentagon’s own systems—as well as the sabotaging of Iran’s nuclear program via the Stuxnet computer worm—have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks. A key moment occurred in 2008, when at least one U.S. military computer system was penetrated, says the WSJ.

Last week Lockheed Martin acknowledged that it had been the victim of an infiltration, while playing down its impact. But eight days after the “significant and tenacious” May 21 attack was detected and countered, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed was still working around the clock to restore employee access to the network, according to Sondra Barbour, the company’s chief information officer.

The U.K. Government is developing a “toolbox” of Internet cyber-weapons that could be used to attack other countries, Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said in an admission that the military now treats the Internet as a battlefield like any other.

In other news, Tupac is still alive and living in New Zealand.

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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