Earlier in the week, the media reported the Pentagon’s position that a serious cyber attack might require a military response—to which the only logical response is: You think?
Now we have the findings of a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey that 53 percent “of voters agree with this proposed new strategy and think a major cyber-attack on the United States by another country should be viewed as an act of war.” Here, the only logical question is: What is wrong with the other 47 percent of the people surveyed?
If (1) A cyber threat threatens the vital interests of the U.S., (2) You can attribute the source of the threat, and (3) Military action is proportional, then clearly, taking military action is a perfectly legitimate form of self-defense. You don’t necessarily need to declare war to take military action, either.
On the other hand, if you wind up whacking somebody because of a botnet attack, you need to be prepared to justify that to the American people and the Congress—something this President apparently has trouble doing when it comes to conventional operations.
America needs to wake up and get cyber-serious before it is faced with a digital Pearl Harbor—because the day after thousands die as the result of a cyber attack, the poll results will show that 99 percent of Americans will think hitting back is a good idea. Protecting and defending against cyber threats is a better strategy than damage control.