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Homepage / national security

Cyber War Means War, Pentagon Says

photo of Ben Terris
May 31, 2011

The pen was once deemed mightier than the sword. In a modern update, the Internet is now considered as powerful a weapon as traditional munitions.  

The Pentagon has concluded for the first time that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that would allow the United States to retaliate with conventional forces. The Pentagon will release portions of its cyberstrategy later this week, which The Wall Street Journal reports will “attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country's military.”

In 2008, the Pentagon’s own computer system was infiltrated. While officials said they believed the attacks originated in Russia, Russia has denied involvement. The Pentagon’s forthcoming report will deal with, among other issues, whether it’s possible to be certain about an attack’s origin, and how to decide whether such an attack is serious enough to be considered an act of war.

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