Experts say the U.S. government is fortifying its cyberwarfare capabilities as a defensive measure against enemies.
President Obama, for example, recently signed executive orders dictating the extent to which the U.S. military can proceed when launching cyberattacks and other cyberoperations against foes and as part of routine espionage activities. The orders detail when the military requires presidential approval for a specific cyberattack and how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will embed cybercapabilities within military strategy, according to defense officials.
Among the sanctioned activities outlined in the orders are planting a computer virus on enemies' computers and launching attacks that cripple a target electrical grid or defense network. When under attack, the United States can block cyberintrusions and bring down servers in another nation, while the military can pursue attackers across national boundaries.
Deputy Defense secretary William Lynn says the United States needs to more aggressively implement defensive and offensive countermeasures, as terror groups will eventually learn how to orchestrate crippling cyberattacks. An anonymous official says the U.S. Pentagon has put together a list of cyberweapons and tools, including viruses that can hobble foreign critical infrastructure, which can be employed "to deter or deny a potential adversary the ability to use its computer systems."
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