In a 30-page secret report, the Pentagon classified all cyber attacks sabotaging its installations or strategic infrastructure (pipelines, nuclear plants, etc.) as "acts of war".

Contrary to the Hollywood storytelling that it helped to finance, the Pentagon considers that cyber attacks of such magnitude can not be carried out by individuals, but only by States.

With the approval of the report, the Pentagon is henceforth authorized to launch missiles against enemy hackers.

This decision, however, raises the question of reciprocity: if the United States regards cyber attacks against its strategic interests as acts of war, their adversaries may also demand the right to respond militarily to cyber-attacks inflicted by US forces. The militarization of cyberspace fuels escalation. A case in point is last year’s disruption of Iran’s civil nuclear program through the Stuxnet virus unleashed by the United States and Israel.

A portion of the report is expected to be declassified next month.


- « Cyber Combat : Act of War. Pentagon Sets Stage for U.S. to Respond to Computer Sabotage With Military Force », by Siobhan Gorman and Julian E. Barnes, The Wall Street Journal, 31 May 2011.