The Pentagon has concluded that cyber attacks by foreign hackers can be classified as an act of war, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Citing three officials who had seen the Pentagon’s soon-to-be-released cyber strategy, WSJ said the plan would maintain that the current international rules of armed conflict are relevant in cyberspace. The Pentagon aims to use the plan as a warning to potential adversaries to stress the consequences of a cyber attack against the United States, WSJ said.
“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” one unnamed official told the paper.
The Pentagon would likely decide whether to respond militarily to cyber attacks based on the notion of “equivalence” — whether the attack was comparable in damage to a traditional military strike. A decision as such would also depend on whether the attacker could be pinpointed.
Recent cyber attacks on the Defense Department’s systems, as well as other web assaults occurring globally, have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to create a more formalized approach to cyber attacks, WSJ said.
A key moment took place in 2008 when hackers were able to penetrate at least one U.S. military computer system. And Lockheed Martin, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors, this weekend announced it had been targeted by a “significant and tenacious” cyber attack.