By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 28, 2010
The Pentagon is contemplating an aggressive approach to defending its
computer systems that includes preemptive actions such as knocking out
parts of an adversary's computer network overseas - but it is still
wrestling with how to pursue the strategy legally.
The department is developing a range of weapons capabilities, including
tools that would allow "attack and exploitation of adversary information
systems" and that can "deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade and destroy"
information and information systems, according to Defense Department
But officials are reluctant to use the tools until questions of
international law and technical feasibility are resolved, and that has
proved to be a major challenge for policymakers. Government lawyers and
some officials question whether the Pentagon could take such action
without violating international law or other countries' sovereignty.
Some officials and experts say they doubt the technology exists to use
such capabilities effectively, and they question the need for such
measures when, they say, traditional defensive steps such as updating
firewalls, protecting computer ports and changing passwords are not
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