via the Associated Press
President Barack Obama has signed executive orders that lay out how far military commanders around the globe can go in using cyberattacks and other computer-based operations against enemies and as part of routine espionage in other countries.
The orders detail when the military must seek presidential approval for a specific cyber assault on an enemy and weave cyber capabilities into U.S. war fighting strategy, defense officials and cyber security experts told The Associated Press.
Signed more than a month ago, the orders cap a two-year Pentagon effort to draft U.S. rules of the road for cyber warfare, and come as the U.S. begins to work with allies on global ground rules.
The guidelines are much like those that govern the use of other weapons of war, from nuclear bombs to missiles to secret surveillance, the officials said.
In a broad new strategy document, the Pentagon lays out some of the cyber capabilities the military may use during peacetime and conflict. They range from planting a computer virus to using cyberattacks to bring down an enemy’s electrical grid or defense network.
“You don’t have to bomb them anymore. That’s the new world,” said James Lewis, cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The new Pentagon strategy, he said, lays out cyber as a new warfare domain and stresses the need to fortify network defenses, protect critical infrastructure and work with allies and corporate partners.
The entire strategy has not been released, but several U.S. officials described it on condition of anonymity. Many aspects of it have been made public by U.S. officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, in speeches over the past several months.
The Pentagon is expected to announce the entire strategy soon.