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The White House has "authorized offensive cyber operations" against U.S. enemies in a new policy that sounds like a declaration of war in a virtual world.
National security adviser John Bolton made the statement in a news briefing to unveil a cyber strategy ahead of the November elections. The United States knows what happened in the presidential race two years ago.
As with so many military operations, the U.S. announced its plan in advance -- as if the cyberwar had just begun.
Bolton said the plan is to deter foreign interference. He did not elaborate on how it will work.
However, the National Cyber Strategy will include "swift and transparent consequences" to "deter future bad behavior." It incorporates a classified presidential directive that replaces one from the last administration.
"Our hands are not tied as they were in the Obama administration," Bolton said.
Under National Security Presidential Memorandum 13, or NSPM 13, the strategy frees the military to take actions that fall below the "use of force" that would cause death, destruction or significant economic impacts.
The president has been troubled about foreign cyberattacks since he was elected in 2016. His administration has been under keen scrutiny for possible collusion in Russian attempts to interfere with the election.
Last December, he specifically called for stronger safeguards against hackers from criminal organizations and countries like Russia, China, and Iran.