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Cyberattack an Act of War

As the field of cyberwar continues to develop and be utilized by countries around the world, and private entities as well, the Pentagon has come out saying that a cyberattack on the United States or American interests would be considered an act of war and may draw a traditional military attack in response. This comes after a weekend revelation that Lockheed Martin, one of the largest defense contractors in our nation and privy to a great deal of sensitive information, recently suffered a "significant and tenacious" cyber attack on its systems (they say that they realized the attack immediately and took necessary precautions to safeguard information systems). An unnamed military official put it this way: "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks."

The Pentagon, which has joined other government agencies and private entities like the NY Stock Exchange in suffering significant attacks on its systems, says that it would maintain the typical stance of a proportional response to any attack. Only if a cyber attack causes death, damage, destruction, or disruptions that a traditional military attack would do will we consider the use of force in response. NATO, too, has indicated that cyberattacks will be considered real acts of war, and that an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all. Some problems remain as to how we will be able to verify the origin of an attack; just because an attack originates within a country does not mean that government was involved. However, some believe the government will apply the same principle of the War on Terror to addressing cyberattackers-- countries that build and have cyber weapons will be responsible for their use. Another issue to arise is that if it is ever revealed who is behind the Stuxnet attacks on Iran's nuclear weapons program, those responsible would, by the new American classification, be at war with Iran. Unclassified portions of the Pentagon's first cyberwar strategy are expected to be available this summer.
Categories > Technology

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For great information on how cyberattacks have been handled in the past, pick up Cliff Stohl's "The Cuckoo's Egg". A true story of how German Drug Dealers paid by Russian Spies broke into the NSA, Norad, and various MAC, SAC and TAC military bases as well as made various attempts to break into the Berkeley and Livermore Lawrence Labs back in the 1980's looking for information on SDI/Star Wars. It is about 200 or so pages. Worth the read...

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