With daily attacks on both public and private computer systems in the US mounting into the thousands, President Obama is expected to announce an overhaul of US strategy to defend against cyberwarfare—building on a $17 billion program Congress approved last year—and name a White House cyberwarfare boss, the New York Times reports. But the president will likely keep quiet about the US’ own offensive capabilities, nurtured with billions of dollars in recent years.
The US has already used cyber-weapons against al-Qaeda and Iran, in the former case to plot a trap, and in the latter to slow nuclear weapons development, the Times notes. But the cyber arms races is just kicking into gear. Potential weapons would allow the US to invade foreign servers to wipe out threatening programs, or even control foreign computers through the Internet. The focus is on preempting attacks that could cripple US power stations, communications, aviation, or financial systems. “The ability to threaten the US money supply is the equivalent of today’s nuclear weapon,” says a former national intelligence chief.