Pentagon Confirms Military Action Is an Acceptable Response to Cyber-Attacks
The ability to launch military strikes against cyber-attackers will deter perpetrators considering attacking the United States via cyber-space, the Pentagon said in a report sent to Congress.It is official. The United States military has explicitly stated that it has the right to retaliate with military force against a cyber-attack. In a 12-page report sent to Congress and made public Nov. 21, the Department of Defense said the military can launch a physical attack in the case of a cyber-attack against its systems. The threat of military action would act as deterrence on people who think they can carry out "significant cyber-attacks directed against the U.S. economy, government or military," the Pentagon wrote in the report, which appears to be an update to the cyber-strategy plan released over the summer.
The president would be in charge of authorizing these attacks, which are approved only to defend computer networks in "areas of hostilities" or actual battle zones, such as Afghanistan. While the report talked about the necessity of securing critical infrastructure, the report said the Pentagon would work with the Department of Homeland Security, which has oversight of this sector. It does not appear from the report that attacks on critical infrastructure by themselves could automatically lead to military action.