In the wake of (alleged) cyberwarfare by China, US president now has the power to order (preemptive) cyber attacks

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According to a report by The New York Times, a secret White House legal review has granted the president  of the United States the legal authority to order preemptive cyber attacks against a target (which can be a country), when there is credible evidence of a pending attack.

Officials that were involved in the review tells the Times that the president now has “broad power to order computer-based attacks on adversaries that disrupt or destroy their systems, without requiring a declaration of war from Congress.” The new rules also determine how government agencies can monitor networks for warnings of imminent attacks.

It also dictates the point wherein the Department of Defense becomes involved. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are the first ones responsible for defending the commercial networks and the US government from attacks, but at a certain point (which is being kept secret), the Department of Defense steps in — if they are granted approval directly from the president.

This news comes shortly after recent cyber attacks on the New York Times. Ars Technica notes that the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post were also victims of attack, and all three are attributed to state-sponsored hackers in China.

China has recently denied government involvement in the attacks, and has even hinted at ulterior motives by the US.

[via NYTArs Technica, ABS-CBN, image via DonkeyHotey]

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  • Mike

    What, China use espionage and cyberattacks to forward its economic interests? Dear. sweet little China? Impossible!

    ;^)

  • Ashraf

    @kevbo: @Seamus McSeamus: @jayesstee: To play devil’s advocate, what is the lesser of two evils – real war or cyberwar? It is hard to decide, in my opinion. Intuitively, one would probably say cyberwar because it doesn’t involve people blowing each other up. At the same time, however, cyberwar can have devastating consequences too, e.g. causing a power plant to melt down.

  • Ashraf

    The biggest question I have is: who was ordering the cyberattacks prior to this decree? ‘Cause you cannot tell me US cyberforce was standing idle this whole time while the rest of the world participated in cyberwar.

  • jayesstee

    As sure as with normal (?) wars, the innocent bystanders will suffer!

  • Seamus McSeamus

    @kevbo:
    Indeed. Soon they will decide that if the Prez walks by and you don’t genuflect, he has the legal authority to send a drone after you.

  • kevbo

    Never let a good crisis, or the public’s perception of one, go to waste; seems to be the mantra of this power hungry administration.