This weekend, murmurs of a confidential legal review have surfaced empowering the US President with the authority to order preemptive cyber strikes should evidence of a major cyber attack against the US is discovered. We previously spoke about a 4 month investigation into cyberattacks aimed at The New York Times last week, implicating origins close associated with the Chinese military. According to The New York Times, the recent policy described in the legal review also governs how intelligence agencies are able to carry out searches of overseas computer networks for signs of potential attacks on the US. Additionally, if the President approves, agencies are allowed to attack adversaries with a destructive code– even if there is no declared war.
News of this review comes on the heels of the US Department of Defense’s approval of a five-fold expansion of its cybersecurity initiative in an attempt to increase its ability to defend crucial computer networks. The Washington has reported that the expansion will increase staff from 900 to 4,900 troops and civilians. The ever-present and increasing danger of entering a cyber cold war has quickly become a reality since the presence of multiple viruses used to wipe data from computers in the Middle East was uncovered last year. Bear in mind President Obama has already approved of a cyber strike used against Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities once, The Times has reported. The operation was named ‘Olympic Games’, developed during George W. Bush’s presidency.
The onset of effective cyber warfare has solidified its potency, proving that a nation’s infrastructure can be destroyed without the use of typical arms. Reviewers have apparently concluded through this review that cyber weapons are powerful enough to rival even nuclear weapons, requiring a direct order from the Commander in Chief to deploy. The review states boldly that International laws dictate any nation is allowed to defend itself from threats, and the United States has applied that concept to conduct preemptive cyber attacks according to that law. The Department of Homeland Security now takes full responsibility for defending cyberattacks on American companies and individuals alike.