The Pentagon has finished drafting its first official “computer sabotage strategy,” determining that online cyber attacks from another country can constitute an act of war, enabling the U.S. to retaliate with military force.
“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 by way of example.
The formal strategy underlines a rising need to systematically respond to attacks on the computer systems of the U.S. and other countries. In 2009, a strain of the Microsoft Windows computer virus Stuxnex, which some believe originated from Israel with U.S. help, damaged Iran’s nuclear facilities. More recently, Google was the victim of cyber attacks that allegedly originated in China, an affair the the White House became involved in.
The 30-page document, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, is also likely to spark debates about a number of unaddressed issues, including whether the U.S. can truly determine the origin of an attack and when a cyber attack is serious enough to constitute an act of war, the WSJ notes.