Some NATO allies are looking at adopting a stronger response to state-sponsored computer hackers that may involve the use of cyberattacks to take down enemy networks.

Countries included in the group are the U.S., Britain, Germany, Norway, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands. Currently the NATO members are developing principles that will guide their respective militaries regarding what justifies the deployment of cyber weapons.

The group is angling for an agreement by early 2019.

The change in doctrine would mean that NATO’s approach to hacking would move from strictly defensive in nature to offensive in confronting hackers working on behalf of governments like North Korea, Russia and China as they attempt to undermine Western governments and steal technology.

“There’s a change in the (NATO) mindset to accept that computers, just like aircraft and ships, have an offensive capability,” said U.S. Navy Commander Michael Widmann at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a research center affiliated to NATO that is coordinating doctrine writing.

The U.S. — and likely other powers — has already developed cyber weapons. In fact, the U.S. and Israel were rumored to have developed the “Stuxnet” malware used to destroy nuclear centrifuges in Iran in 2010.

The U.S. announced in 2011 that it would respond to hostile cyber acts.

Some NATO allies believe targeted cyber attacks would be more effective than air strikes. NATO determined in 2014 that cyber was a warfare domain but the alliance has yet to develop cyberwarfare policies. [source]

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