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Navy Sets Goal For ‘Offensive Operations In Cyberspace’

As the White House claims that to have been hacked by Russia, the US Navy is going full speed ahead on its own cyberwarfare program. Unlike the typical public relations posturing around cyberwarfare the Navy is admitting that part of its program will be offensive.

The new cyberstrategy will focus on five key goals one of which is to “conduct offensive operations in cyberspace.” Usually defense and intelligence officials shade their operations in defensive terms and concepts, the Navy is bluntly letting everyone know they are building first strike weapons as per public statements by Kevin Cooley, executive director and command information officer for Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet.

The third goal is conducting offensive operations in cyberspace – a subject that defense officials traditionally have avoided discussing much.

“You don’t win a knife fight without swinging a knife,” Cooley said. “We’re spending time making sure we’re ready to execute should those options be considered appropriate by national command authority to do that. This is a warfare domain, so just like in other warfare domains we have the capability to be tactically offensive and tactically defensive [and] strategically offensive and strategically defensive…being open about that capability is an important part of transparency that we acknowledge in any other form of warfare.”

And as luck would have it the national command authority led by President Obama just changed the rules for cyberwarfare.

On Apirl 1st President Obama signed an executive order titled “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” and put out a corresponding explanation for the order and his cyberwarfare position on the site Medium in which Obama focused on “stealing the trade secrets of American companies” and violating intellectual property as forms of cyberwarfare.

So violating intellectual property rights is now an act of war? If so, then is the Navy setting itself up to be Hollywood’s muscle? Making cyberspace a full on war zone will be great for cyberweapon makers and their financiers but count on plenty of collateral damage. The days of a free internet may be numbered.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.