The Pentagon has decided that computer-based attacks and hacking from a foreign country can now be considered acts of war.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal the Pentagon is stiffening their approach to cyber attacks following the recent cyber attack of US military defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
According to the report, “If a cyber attack produces the death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that a traditional military attack would cause, then it would be a candidate for a ‘use of force’ consideration, which could merit retaliation.”
The military is said to be adapting to a changing landscape, where new technology brings new threats. Currently cyber warfare is not addressed by the Rules of Armed Conflict, since those rules are based on laws which pre-date cyber issues. International treaties like the Geneva Conventions and others which made up the rules of war cannot, the military argues, apply to cyber attacks because they were not designed to.
The United States hopes its new approach to cyber attacks will be met by a consensus from its allies.
The greatest debate however will focus on cyber attacks themselves, and whether or not one can accurately determine an origin in order to deem is the act was performed by a foreign government, rogue operatives or a high school student bored in his or her bedroom. The Pentagon has yet to address such concerns.
Recent studies show most hacks come from individuals or rogue groups – many inside the United States or inside of the US allies, like the UK. It is not the government performing the attack, making it hard to declare war justly.