The Department of Defense’s new cyber strategy gives the U.S. military authority to act more aggressively in the case of cyber attacks, which could include acting against countries that considered friendly toward the United States.
The new version of the strategy, first reported on by CNN on Tuesday, states that the department will “defend forward” to block cyber threats against the U.S., essentially giving the military the authority to initiate preventative cyberattacks.
“Our primary role in this homeland defense mission is to defend forward by leveraging our focus outward to stop threats before they reach their targets,” the strategy reads.
CNN noted that hackers from one nation will often establish a computer network in a second country before using that network to launch an attack against the U.S., which opens to the door to attacking networks housed in American-allied countries.
The new strategy does prevent the U.S. from attacking civilian infrastructure in other countries, citing a United Nations agreement "against damaging civilian critical infrastructure during peacetime."
The new strategy comes as top Trump administration officials hint toward a more proactive approach to blocking cyber threats.
President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE reportedly rolled back a directive last month on how the U.S. launches cyber attacks against other countries that required several departments to weigh in and sign off on the move.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenFar-left bullies resort to harassing, shaming Kyrsten Sinema — it won't work Ex-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides MORE said earlier this month that she believes the U.S. response to cyber attacks from foreign actors needs to be “more than commensurate.”
“By the time that a country is attacking civilian networks, civilian assets, it’s not a fair fight,” Nielsen said. “It’s not how the international world has created norms and standards. And I don’t think that it should be commensurate, I think it should be more.”