The Pentagon’s new Cyber Command is seeking authority to attack computer networks around the globe to protect American interests, drawing objections from Obama administration lawyers uncertain about the legality of offensive operations.
Cyber Command’s commander, General Keith Alexander, who also heads the National Security Agency, wants his new command to be able to mount what he has called ”the full spectrum” of operations in cyberspace.
Offensive actions could include shutting down part of an opponent’s computer network or changing a line of code in an adversary’s computer. They are operations that destroy, disrupt or degrade targeted computers or networks.
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But current and former officials say that senior policymakers and administration lawyers want to limit the military’s offensive computer operations to war zones such as Afghanistan, in part because the CIA claims covert operations outside the battle zone are its responsibility and the State Department is concerned about a diplomatic backlash.
The administration debate is part of a larger effort to develop a coherent strategy to guide the government in defending the US from attacks on computer and information systems that officials say could damage power grids, corrupt financial transactions or disable an internet service provider.
The effort is fraught because of the unpredictability of some cyber operations; an action against a target in one country could unintentionally disrupt servers in another.
Policymakers are also struggling to delineate Cyber Command’s role in defending critical domestic networks in a way that does not violate Americans’ privacy.
The policy wrangle predates the administration of President Barack Obama but was renewed last year as Mr Obama declared cyber security a matter of national and economic security. The Pentagon has said it will release a national defence cyber-security strategy by the end of the year. …
If Obama can have a hit list for the murder of American born persons, what’s the big deal about them hacking your computer? They would probably only do it if you had information about a crime they committed or something.