America’s Department of Defense “has quietly empowered the United States Cyber Command to take a far more aggressive approach to defending the nation against cyberattacks, a shift in strategy that could increase the risk of conflict with the foreign states that sponsor malicious hacking groups,” reports the New York Times.
In the spring, as the Pentagon elevated the command’s status, it opened the door to nearly daily raids on foreign networks, seeking to disable cyberweapons before they can be unleashed, according to strategy documents and military and intelligence officials… The new strategy envisions constant, disruptive “short of war” activities in foreign computer networks… “Continuous engagement imposes tactical friction and strategic costs on our adversaries, compelling them to shift resources to defense and reduce attacks”…
The risks of escalation — of U.S. action in foreign networks leading to retaliatory strikes against U.S. banks, dams, financial markets or communications networks — are considerable, according to current and former officials… The chief risk is that the internet becomes a battleground of all-against-all, as nations not only place “implants” in the networks of their adversaries — something the United States, China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have done with varying levels of sophistication — but also begin to engage in daily attack and counterattack.
An article shared notes that officials in the Obama administration “were also worried that a vigorous cyber response…could escalate into a full scale cyber war.”
Yet the Times reports that this new policy reflects “a widespread view that the United States has mounted an inadequate defense against the rising number of attacks aimed at America.”