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"States have an inherent right to self-defense that may be triggered by certain aggressive acts in cyberspace,” says the policy. Indeed, such aggressive acts might compel a country like the US to act even when the hacking is targeted at an allied country.
“Certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners,” says the document. “When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would any other threat to our country.”
Military force will only be used as a last resort after other diplomatic and economic remedies are attempted, but the US government has certainly realized the value of the Internet and has no intention of sitting quietly while corporate and governmental computer systems are attacked with impunity.
If a hacker is really good, they can make the hack look like it came from any country they want
But Thursday, the CBC reported that a third government agency, Defence Research and Development Canada, a civilian arm of Canada’s Department of National Defence, had also been penetrated by China-based hackers. The Chinese government insisted it had no connection with the cyber attacks.
Canadian officials were quick to point out that there is no apparent link to that government. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said, “China attaches great importance to computer security and consistently opposes and cracks down on hacking activities according to relative laws and regulations.”