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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Science & Technology | 10 comments

Pentagon Says Cyber Combat Can Be Considered An Act of War

The Pentagon has decided that computer sabotage from another country can be considered an act of war. And the U.S. can respond with military force:

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.

Quotes like that portend an interesting document. And, as reports go, this one will be brief:

The Pentagon’s document runs about 30 pages in its classified version and 12 pages in the unclassified one. It concludes that the Laws of Armed Conflict—derived from various treaties and customs that, over the years, have come to guide the conduct of war and proportionality of response—apply in cyberspace as in traditional warfare, according to three defense officials who have read the document. The document goes on to describe the Defense Department’s dependence on information technology and why it must forge partnerships with other nations and private industry to protect infrastructure.

Also from the WSJ today, Hackers Broaden Their Attacks.