The Wall Street Journal broke the news yesterday that the Pentagon has concluded that hacking and other forms of digital sabotage that originate from other countries can be considered an act of war. This means that for the first time, the U.S. is in the position of possibly responding to an online attack with offline "traditional military force." Guns, troops, drones, bombs.
The Pentagon's first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early 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 part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks," said a military official.