Offence best defence for cyber war?

The Pentagon is under pressure to go on offensive in cyberspace by developing the technique to attack other nations’ computer systems rather than defending America’s electronic security, a media report said on Monday.
   “‘Exploiting’ computer networks to gather intelligence is currently the most important use of cyber-power. Clearly, the exploitation activities have been preeminent,” a senior Pentagon official said.
   Under the sweeping proposals, military experts would acquire the knowhow to commandeer the unmanned aerial drones of adversaries, disable enemy warplanes in mid-flight and cut off electricity to strategic locations, such as military installations, at precise moments while sparing humanitarian facilities, such as hospitals, the Los Angeles Times reported.
   An expansion of offensive capabilities in cyberspace would bring vital change in the military, the paper said, adding that for years, US officials have been reluctant to militarise what is widely seen as a medium for commerce and communication — much like space.
   But a new National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations, declassified earlier this year, fuelled the debate and gave Pentagon a green signal to push for expanded capabilities, the report said. The months-long debate took on added urgency after the electronic attacks that coincided with the Russian military’s early August push into Georgia and reflected a newfound uncertainty over the state of global cyber-warfare capabilities, the report said.
   The officials have not concluded whether the electronic network attacks in Georgia were coordinated by Moscow or were the work of freelance hackers or paramilitary groups. Still, the use of cyberspace by Russia and other countries is drawing intense scrutiny by the Pentagon.
   “As we go forward in time, cyber is going to be a very important part of our war-fighting tactics, techniques and procedures,” Michael Wynne, a former air force secretary, was quoted as saying.Wynne had clashed with superiors over the air force approach to cyberspace and was fired after breakdowns in US nuclear weapons security procedures, the paper said.
   If the military is allowed to develop more advanced cyberwarfare methods, the US would be able to routinely launch airstrikes at a target and simultaneously use an electronic attack to disable defences, said Wynne.

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