The Pentagon has come up with a classified list of cyber-weapons that can be used against enemies in an effort to streamline U.S. computer warfare capabilities. The list, in use for months, includes viruses that can attack critical computer networks, sources tell The Washington Post
The list includes part of the Pentagon’s list of approved weapons that can be employed against an enemy. “So whether it’s a tank, an M-16 or a computer virus, it’s going to follow the same rules so that we can understand how to employ it, when you can use it, when you can’t, what you can and can’t use,” a senior military official told the Post.
According to the directive, the military needs presidential authorization to penetrate a foreign computer network and leave a cyber-virus but does not need such approval to penetrate foreign networks to study cyber-capabilities or examine how power plants or other networks operate.
U.S. officials have not acknowledged any role in creating the Stuxnet worm that disrupted operations at an Iranian nuclear facility last year but experts believe the United States had a role, the Post reported.
Under the new rules, the president must approve the use of a worm like Stuxnet even during hostilities, military officials told the Post. The rules also require that any cyber-weapon would have to be proportional to the threat, not inflict undue collateral damage and avoid civilian casualties.
A U.S. official told the Post that “the United States is actively developing and implementing” cyber-capabilities “to deter or deny a potential adversary the ability to use its computer systems” to attack the United States.
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