By Ellen Nakashima,
President Obama has signed a secret directive that effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.
Presidential Policy Directive 20 establishes a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace, according to several U.S. officials who have seen the classified document and are not authorized to speak on the record. The president signed it in mid-October.
The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism, where an attack can be launched in milliseconds by unknown assailants utilizing a circuitous route. For the first time, the directive explicitly makes a distinction between network defense and cyber-operations to guide officials charged with making often-rapid decisions when confronted with threats.
The policy also lays out a process to vet any operations outside government and defense networks and ensure that U.S. citizens’ and foreign allies’ data and privacy are protected and international laws of war are followed.
“What it does, really for the first time, is it explicitly talks about how we will use cyber-
operations,” a senior administration official said. “Network defense is what you’re doing inside your own networks. . . . Cyber-operations is stuff outside that space, and recognizing that you could be doing that for what might be called defensive purposes.”
The policy, which updates a 2004 presidential directive, is part of a wider push by the Obama administration to confront the growing cyberthreat, which officials warn may overtake terrorism as the most significant danger to the country. …
Lies from politicians are the most significant danger to this country.
The Obama administration conducted a mock cyber attack on New York City yesterday in an effort to gain support in the Senate for a cybersecurity bill that internet providers argue will prevent them from making real security improvements.
“Senators from both parties gathered behind closed doors in the U.S. Capitol yesterday for the classified briefing attended by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller and other administration officials.” reports Bloomberg.
White House spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said that the staged attack was “intended to provide all senators with an appreciation for new legislative authorities that would help the U.S. government prevent and more quickly respond to cyber attacks,”.
Hayden added that the Senate will receive a classified briefing on the “hypothetical cyber attack against United States critical infrastructure networks.”
The networks attacked during the mock event reportedly included U.S. banks, power grids and telecommunications systems. …
Trust the government or not, any single point of failure or control for the Internet will be a disaster. There are continuous attacks going on every minute and none of them does much harm on a big scale. Giving the government a back door to shut off any main artery, however, will allow hackers to do exactly what Obama says he fears. Don’t let him attack the Internet under the disguise of defending it!
What he is seeking is the ability to cause information blackouts. This permits enormous horrendous government crimes, such as mass exterminations with railroad cars taking citizens to gas chambers. Obama isn’t Hitler, but to make sure we never have a Hitler, we can NOT allow the government to have an Internet kill switch!
Legislation granting the president internet-killing powers is to be re-introduced soon to a Senate committee, the proposal’s chief sponsor told Wired.com on Friday.
The resurgence of the so-called “kill switch” legislation came the same day Egyptians faced an internet blackout designed to counter massive demonstrations in that country.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, is being floated by Sen. Susan Collins, the Republican ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The proposed legislation, which Collins said would not give the president the same power Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is exercising to quell dissent, sailed through the Homeland Security Committee in December but expired with the new Congress weeks later.
The bill is designed to protect against “significant” cyber threats before they cause damage, Collins said.
“My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,” Collins said in an e-mail Friday. “It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.”
The timing of when the legislation would be re-introduced was not immediately clear, as kinks to it are being worked out.
An aide to the Homeland Security committee described the bill as one that does not mandate the shuttering of the entire internet. Instead, it would authorize the president to demand turning off access to so-called “critical infrastructure” where necessary.
An example, the aide said, would require infrastructure connected to “the system that controls the floodgates to the Hoover dam” to cut its connection to the net if the government detected an imminent cyber attack. …