NEWS

Cyber Attacks Deemed an Act of War

By Laura Spadanuta

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.

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