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Cyber War: White House Considers Military Action Against Hackers

By Matthew Klickstein , Mar 01, 2013 11:07 AM EST
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Considering the number of cyberattacks that have taken place over the last few weeks, the White House is now debating whether or not it will employ military action in the event of further hacks.

Other tools the U.S. government is considering for use against individuals or countries that might hack Americans include visa restrictions and financial sanctions.

The announcement was made at an RSA cybersecurity conference on Thursday, Feb. 28 by White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel, who went on to state that the federal government is still figuring out when it would need to start retaliating against a foreign or domestic hacker.   

Though the issue has been raised before, Daniel's announcement marks the first time specific retaliation methods have been mentioned by the White House.

"It's really a question that we're still debating and debating vigorously, and we need to debate within the government and as a society," said Daniel. "What I can say is that once we decide a federal response is warranted though, there's still a broad spectrum of actions we could take."

Over just the last few weeks alone, there have been well-publicized hacks of Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest as well as those of Burger King, Facebook and Microsoft.

iTechPost recently discussed the fact that China has reported being hacked "thousands" of times a month by individuals in the U.S. Meanwhile, earlier in February we also noted that China is, itself, a "top" cyberthreat to the U.S.

With all this hacking going on both within and outside of our country's borders, it's clear the State Department will need to do something to crack down on these security breaches. Daniel says this may include the U.S. leveraging its diplomatic powers to "push countries to crack down on hacking activities from within their borders."

Daniel continued that the White House is well aware of the larger implications of retaliating against foreign hackers and will move on its plans with caution.

"The risk of missed attribution, missed calculation and escalation in cyberspace are very real," says Daniel. "As a government, any action we take in cyberspace must be considered against its possible foreign policy implications and our desire to establish international norms of acceptable behavior in cyberspace."

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