Obama administration set for pre-emptive cyber strikes, similar to drone program
The US could launch pre-emptive cyber strikes against countries it suspects of threatening its interests with a digital attack, under a new set of secret guidelines to safeguard the nation’s computer systems.
The rules will be highly classified, just as those governing drone strikes the NY Times details.
Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the new policy would also govern how the intelligence agencies could carry out searches of overseas computer networks for signs of potential attacks on the US and, if the president approved, attack foes with a destructive code – even if there was no declared war.
The review came as the US Department of Defence approved a five-fold expansion of its cyber security force in a bid to increase its ability to defend critical computer networks.
The Washington Post reported that the department’s Cyber Command, which has a staff of about 900, would expand to about 4900 troops and civilians.
At the end of January, one day after The New York Times reported that Chinese hackers had infiltrated its computers and stolen passwords for its employees, The Wall Street Journal announced that it too had been hacked.
From the NY Times article:
Cyberweaponry is the newest and perhaps most complex arms race under way. The Pentagon has created a new Cyber Command, and computer network warfare is one of the few parts of the military budget that is expected to grow. Officials said that the new cyberpolicies had been guided by a decade of evolution in counterterrorism policy, particularly on the division of authority between the military and the intelligence agencies in deploying cyberweapons. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk on the record.
Under current rules, the military can openly carry out counterterrorism missions in nations where the United States operates under the rules of war, like Afghanistan. But the intelligence agencies have the authority to carry out clandestine drone strikes and commando raids in places like Pakistan and Yemen, which are not declared war zones.
The results have provoked wide protests.