In addition to authorizing the use of cyberweapons, the White House is preparing an executive order to beef up cybersecurity for critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid, refineries, and telecommunications.
A formal, three-year legal and policy review of US cyberweapons that concluded last fall has effectively cleared their use alongside other weapons systems in the US arsenal, a stamp of approval that propels the fledgling US Cyber Command toward a fully operational role within the nation's military structure, cyberwar experts say.
Cyberweapons have been available to the US military since at least the first Gulf War against Iraq, but when, how, and under what conditions they could or should be deployed has been subject to vigorous debate among military and civilian policymakers.
Now it appears cyberweapons and cyberwarfare have nudged up alongside other legally approved military theaters and techniques, including space warfare and electronic war as well as the use of drones, sabotage, and special operations. In particular, cyberweapons were approved in the review for "preemptive" attacks if authorized by the president and if an imminent attack on the US warranted it, the New York Times reports.
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