back to article Hack attacks on US could spark military action

The Obama Administration has put the world on notice that hack attacks directed against US assets could be met with military action. “When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country,” the White House said in a long-expected policy, titled The …


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  1. Christoph

    Not quite

    “All states possess an inherent right to self-defense"

    Unless it's the USA invading them of course.

    1. DarkStranger
      Thumb Down

      If you don't like it...

      Some of us Americans dislike or even hate the way the United States government has prosecuted it's foreign policy, myself included, but almost all of us hate being lumped into this 'Ugly American' cancer cluster category that so many Europeans, Asians and middle easterners so willingly place us.

      As there are consequences for everyone's actions I invite and encourage you to stand up for what you believe in. So if you are being invaded by someone stand-up or shut-up!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I believe....

        .... that Americans call such people "terrorists", e.g. in Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan - see the problem? Thought not.

      2. Zolko Silver badge

        No, I don't like it

        @ DarkStranger : "stand-up or shut-up!"

        funny how you are giving orders on a European site, while you pretend to be against exactly this aggressive american behaviour.

      3. Lionel Baden


        I think you will find we dislike americans as a People not as individuals.

        Although im sure there a plenty of unpleasant ignorant people in every country on this planet. You just got greedy and took the major share.

        Why we dislike you.

        "All necersarry means ..... consistent with applicable international law,"

        Hmm Cuba ring any bells here. Americans dont give a fuck about international law.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Don't point your "we" at me. I don't dislike the "American people", as there is no such thing. Demonising a people is the first step to ... a big fucking lesson from history.

          Nice quote, by the way. Do you think Great Britain has never acted contrary to its own moral directives? Care to explain to me exactly what's going on in Libya right now?

      4. Stone Fox


        Kindly replace "Europeans, asians and middle easteners" with "the entire non-american world"

      5. Black Betty

        Your dog. Your problem when it bites.

        "Stand up or shut up." Hmm, how's that working out in the Middle East anyway? South America? SE Asia.

        Over the last half century the US has killed millions who's basic crime was objecting to the presence of the US where it wasn't welcome.

        Prior to that, the US killed millions of its OWN people, for daring to have the "wrong" skin colour, and for occupying land that people of the "right" skin colour wanted for themselves.

    2. Thomas 4
      Black Helicopters

      Meanwhile, over Gary McKinnon's house....

      Can anyone else hear a heavily armed Navy SEALs team choppering into position?

      1. John Sturdy
        Black Helicopters

        Of course not

        No, they're stealth helicopters!

      2. Tom 13

        if you hear a heavily armed, commado-type strike team choppering into position

        you are in real trouble - That's a Russia or Chicom team -- Americans now have whisper mode choppers.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      I'd have liked to have seen some secret ops against IRA funders

      In the seventies and eighties, when IRA (Noraid) terrorist fundraising was being openly conducted in some US cities with the purpose of purchasing explosives and armaments for assassinations and the bombing of cities and civilians within the UK. The US only seemed opposed to terrorism once this started occurring inside the US.

      The Israelis conduct such actions abroad with a degree of plausible deniability. When the US do it, they don't bother with plausible deniability, because their domestic propaganda always seems to take priority over their foreign and diplomatic relations.

      1. Tom 13

        And I for one would have been more than happy to hand over Teddy Kennedy

        and the other twits who were engaged in those activities. No extreme rendition necessary. But for some reason instead of being condemned for such activities, he seems to be one of the people most praised on your side of the pond.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    What's sauce for the goose

    is sauce for the gander.

    So presumably they won't mind if other world powers take the same attitude and do some militarised arse-kicking of american nationals in the USA who take part in cyber attacks on other countries?

    Though historically, a lot of the "attacks on the US", have come from it's own citizens inside the country.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think there is a difference between an individual or non-state organised group hacking a country and a state sponsored attack.

      (Queue downvotes for saying something in defence of an American policy... Sigh)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        You're right, there is a difference. Now prove which one it was.

        Since proving the existence of a BFG seems difficult enough for Western Intelligence agencies (it's either there or it isn't), how well are they going to cope with subtleties like motive?

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Cue downvotes ...

        for an inability to use the correct heterograph...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 0918

          Well, I looked up heterograph in both and my rather large OED, it's not in either, so I have to ask: What are you talking about?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Homophones that are spelled differently (Hetero - other, Graph - writing). Most people would merely have pointed to the fact that it's a homophone, as that's the psychological cause of such errors.

            @All: What's with the endless grammar Nazism? One minute y'all decry soft subjects like English, the next, you're trying to treat English like it's set theory with axioms and lemmas and rigidly defined usage.

            And every time one of you does this, you commit some error of your own. In this instance, the following is orthographically incorrect:

            Cue downvotes ...

            for an inability to use the correct heterograph...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Try google.

  3. Paul 129


    "As one retired US general has already conceded, not all attacks on government networks can accurately be considered an act of war. What's more, even when they can, it's often impossible to know which country is behind them."

    The truth does kinda spoil a good war. The US are just lowering the the bar a little on how to get one started.

  4. Adze

    "as appropriate and consistent with applicable international law"

    Well... that makes a nice change then!

  5. Stewart Stevens


    Do you think they might set some half decent passwords up on their machines before firing off the missiles?

    "The administration went on to say military force would be used only after all other options have been exhausted."

  6. Quxy

    "And don't even get me started about movie pirates"...

    ...the MPAA^H^H^H^H Obama Administration spokesman went on to say.

    1. Elmer Phud


      Doesn't he like Jack Sparrow?

      1. Quxy

        Jack Sparrow?

        No, he doesn't like Jack -- Jack doesn't pay as well as Barbossa!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Clear target

    Quiz question:

    Name the country which is known for it's "Cyber army", has the world's 3rd largest oil reserves at around 150 billion barrels but yet is the second largest gasoline importer in the world - just behind the US - at least until their first mega refinery starts working later this year?

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Oh yes...

    Fancy an attack on Pakistan my'lord?

    Just when you thought irrationality unlawfully carnally paired with american militaro-exceptionalism had generated enough stupidity, they manage to take it to 120%.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    What you going to do? Invade every country whose IP was found to be breaching your 'cyberspace'? Riiight

  10. FozzyBear
    Thumb Down

    Titiel Required

    The administration went on to say military force would be used only after all other options have been exhausted

    "or when our political spin doctors are able to spin a tale that would legitimize said action”

    “or when the President realizes that said war will net him a tidy profit due to his business interests”

    “or when the US Military realize it has been 5 years since they had the chance to blow something/someone up outside of the training range”

    “or when ……”

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You say you need a title?

      It was this line that made me think:

      >"or when our political spin doctors are able to spin a tale that would legitimize said action”

      The ideal title for your post would have been "Wag the dog?". No, no charge. This one's on me :-)

  11. Katie Saucey
    Black Helicopters

    I thought I heard something....

    Well, this explains all those frigging predator drones circling my house, maybe I'll switch to my neighbours wi-fi for awhile...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    The document should come with a warning

    Warning: The title alone will make you puke, the US government is not responsible for your keyboard bills.

    For those not opening the PDF (well done, who knows what the Whitehouse stuffed in there) the title of this fabulous document is:

    "Prosperity, Security, and Openness in a Networked World"

    I didn't even make it to the main text.

    Actually maybe I should because my El Reg nickname might be considered an attack on US... Hopefully they'll have updated all their modems' firmware by now, if not, well sorry guys.

  13. Cunningly Linguistic

    It should be fun...

    ...if Wikileaks manages to scrounge up something on Stuxnet!

  14. Combat Wombat

    Yeah right

    The US is a thrashing, dying entity.

    Given how stretched their armed forces are, and how utterly broke they are I really can't see the US mounting any sort of serious operation into a country.

    Iran gets it, and is constantly calling their bluff.

    And before you all point out Libya, all the US is doing is launching cruise missiles. The US would be totally unable to commit any sort of troops to any theater of war now days.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    "The administration went on to say military force would be used only after all other options have been exhausted."

    More helicopter carcasses for sale on ebay then I suppose.....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So it's OK for Iran to attack USA and Israel now?

    Because of Stuxnet, right? Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. President, Sir.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    yes , so true!, mr. obama

    All states possess an inherent right to self-defense AND self-destruct at the same time !

  18. thecakeis(not)alie

    "All states possess an inherent right to self-defense."

    I consider allowing the broadcast of FOX News to be an attack on all nations. More specifically, since FOX OTA broadcasts are receivable in Canadian territory, I do believe we have just cause to defend ourselves. An appropriate and proportional response would be to jam the frequencies used by FOX broadcasting stations near the Canadian border.

    The only possible result is a better world.

  19. kain preacher


    I apologizes for FOX news being broadcast in Canada. You take Celine back and we will cancel FOX news .

    1. Anonymous Coward


      This isn't the first bad thing to come out of Canada. Let's not forget Bryan Adams!

      Yes, well the Canadian government has apologized for him on several occasions!

      1. bean520

        Soth Park Movie...

        "Remember when you look into the eyes of your dying, screaming, bloodied enemy, that it's ok so long as our children don't hear naughty language"

        So many similarities between that America and the real one... thats the scary thing. And this was made before all these wars (1999)

  20. Winkypop Silver badge

    Just another way of saying...

    ....all your base are belong to us.

  21. Me Meeson
    Thumb Down


    Why is it that the US gov and military are pretty much the only groups that use the term "Cyber" without their tongue firmly planted in their cheek?

    Everyone else realises that they sound like writers for Dr Who, or throwbacks to 1996 when using that term.

    1. Mephistro


      The word "Cyberspace" was created circa 1983 by William Gibson, of Neuromancer fame. It sounded nice and embodied an interesting concept, so it stuck. Get over it.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        From the wiki....

        The word "cyberspace" (from cybernetics and space) was coined by science fiction novelist and seminal cyberpunk author William Gibson in his 1982 story "Burning Chrome" and popularized by his 1984 novel Neuromancer. The portion of Neuromancer cited in this respect is usually the following:

        Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.

        Despite its originally negative overtone, the term no longer carries a negative connotation.

        Gibson later commented on the origin of the term in the 2000 documentary No Maps for These Territories:

        All I knew about the word "cyberspace" when I coined it, was that it seemed like an effective buzzword. It seemed evocative and essentially meaningless. It was suggestive of something, but had no real semantic meaning, even for me, as I saw it emerge on the page.

  22. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    American Pie in the Sky

    "The digital world is no longer a lawless frontier, nor the province of a small elite. It is a place where the norms of responsible, just, and peaceful conduct among states and peoples have begun to take hold." .... "International Strategy for CyberSpace .... Prosperity, Security, and Openness in a Networked World .... May 2011"

    In your dreams, baby, or whenever pigs can fly, in other words ....... which in a digital world, is easily arranged whenever you know what needs to be done, and how to do it with IT and Media Product Placement oneself, or else you will be fully reliant and dependent upon the brilliant future skill of others, mirrored in the ancient dark arts of past masters.

  23. LaeMing

    I think he was referring to

    "All States of the US"

  24. James Woods


    This has been common knowledge for those that have any for years.

    It's previously been stated that an e-attack on friends of government (bankers etc...) could result in physical re-action by the military.

    So im not sure what's new here other than the democrats got in the white house and the 'wars' haven't gone away.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "hack attacks directed against US assets could be met with military action"

    That means attacking Russia and China - good luck with that.


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