The Pentagon has a classified list of cyberattack capabilities that the U.S. could use to defend or retaliate against a technological assault, if necessary.
Ranging from viruses that could sabotage an enemy network to beacons that can serve as markers for later, the list more closely defines the range of cyber capabilities in the military arsenal, a senior Pentagon official told Fox News.
The U.S. military's capabilities have moved far beyond the common "denial of service" (akin to phone jamming for a computer) and "radar jamming" we already know of.
"They've gotten more sophisticated," this official said.
The purpose of the list is to better inform interagency parties involved in establishing an execute order as to just what various actions entail. In other words, our capabilities have grown, and people approving these actions need to understand just what they are.
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The Stuxnet worm is a good example. It's widely believed that cyberattack on the Iranian nuclear program was done with at least some support from the U.S.
The document lists computer viruses available for cyberwarfare, describes techniques for covert network infiltration, and discusses the use of beacons to mark a target for a future viral attack.
"Whether it’s a tank, an M-16 or a computer virus, it’s going to follow the same rules so that we can understand how to employ it, when you can use it, when you can’t, what you can and can’t use,” a senior military official told the Washington Post.
The news comes amid revelations about the government's expanding conception of the importance of cyberwar. On Tuesday, the Pentagon concluded that computer sabotage from another country was akin to military action, and could merit a traditional military response.
The Pentagon's official cyberstrategy, the first ever statement of such U.S. policy, is expected to become public next month.