The Pentagon for the first time has declared that cyber attacks originating in other countries are an act of war, which clears the path for a military response, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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. This weekend Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor, acknowledged that it had been the victim of an infiltration, while playing down its impact.
The categorization will come as a part of the Pentagon's first formal cyber strategy. The Journal reports that the unclassified segments of this document will become available next month.