16 Nov 2012

President Obama Signs Secret Directives Regarding Cyber-Attacks


US President Barack Obama has signed a secret directive that allows more aggressive military response against cyber-attacks on government and private computer networks.

This classified directive, an update to another 2004 presidential policy, is a collection of guidelines for federal agencies’ operational response to cyberspace malicious activity. The directive sets up security standards to make a clearer distinction between “offensive” and “defensive” responses in matters such as cyber-terrorism and cyber-warfare, given that this type of action is a growing concern in our day by day political, social and business environments.

"What it does, really for the first time, is it explicitly talks about how we will use cyber-operations... Network defense is what you're doing inside your own networks... Cyber-operations is stuff outside that space, and recognizing that you could be doing that for what might be called defensive purposes," a senior administrator official told The Washington Post.

Presidential Policy Directive 20 is intended to help officials in charge of making this kind of decision to defend both governmental and civil networks, and protect data and privacy of US citizens and allies alike.

The Pentagon too is about to finish drafting the military’s standing rules of engagement to allow military cyber-specialists to respond outside their computer networks in case of an cyber-attack against critical US computers.  Currently, the military can take action against such an attack only within their network.

“But cyber-operations, the officials stressed, are not an isolated tool. Rather, they are an integral part of the coordinated national security effort that includes diplomatic, economic and traditional military measures,” writes The Post.