Feds Consider Waging Cyber War

Monday, 10 February 2003, 4:13 PM EST

President George W. Bush has reportedly directed the U.S. government to develop a policy on waging cyber-warfare, but one security vendor suggested such tactics could backfire.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Bush signed a secret directive in July ordering the government to develop plans for cyberattacks against its enemies, the first such cyber directive. But digital security vendor mi2g said cyber-warfare would hurt densely networked countries like the U.S. worse than countries like Iraq.

"Any state sponsoring the use of cyber-warfare will have to look closely at retaliation and threats to its digitally connected government and business targets," said D.K. Matai, chairman and chief executive officer of mi2g, in a statement. "When cyberattack blended with physical attack is used to disrupt or damage critical national infrastructure, there are counterattacks which quickly follow suit."

The White House and U.S. Department of Defense had no immediate comment on any cyber-warfare plans. A White House spokesperson said he wouldn't discuss military operations, adding that he couldn't confirm or deny the Bush directive. "I think it's common knowledge that we engage in counterelectronic measures when necessary," the spokesperson added. "If we have people in harm's way, we'll do whatever's necessary to keep them safe."

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