President Barack Obama has signed executive orders that spell out to what extent military commanders worldwide can use cyber attacks and other web-based operations against adversaries, The Associated Press reports.
Signed more than a month ago, the orders outline some of the cyber capabilities — including planting a virus or launching a cyber attack — the U.S. military can deploy.
The guidelines make clear that when attacked, the United States can defend itself or even retaliate by taking down servers in another country. And as seen in traditional warfare, the U.S. can go after attackers across national boundaries, even if those are virtual network lines.
The orders also detail when the military must seek the president’s approval before engaging in cyber assault and incorporate cyber capabilities into U.S. war-fighting strategy, defense officials and cybersecurity experts said.
While hackers typically route their attacks through networks of “innocent computers that could be anywhere,” AP said, the new guidelines do not allow the U.S. to “deliberately route a cyber attack through another country if that nation has not given permission — much like U.S. fighter jets need permission to fly through another nation’s airspace.”
The Pentagon is expected to release the entire strategy soon.