The Defense Department unveiled a new strategy for protecting military computer networks from hackers on Thursday, designating cyberspace as an "operational domain" U.S. forces will be trained to defend.
Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said the Pentagon wanted to avoid militarizing cyberspace, but aimed to secure strategic networks with the threat of retaliation, as well as by mounting a more robust defense.
"Our strategy's overriding emphasis is on denying the benefit of an attack," Lynn said in a speech at the National Defense University. "If an attack will not have its intended effect, those who wish us harm will have less reason to target us through cyberspace in the first place."
Identifying intruders and responding to serious cyber attacks are part of the strategy, he said. But the military now focuses its strongest deterrent on other nation states, not transnational groups.
"Terrorist groups and rogue states must be considered separately," Lynn said.
"They have few or no assets to hold at risk and a greater willingness to provoke. They are thus harder to deter. If a terrorist group gains disruptive or destructive cyber tools, we have to assume they will strike with little hesitation."
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