The Pentagon Has Prepared a Cyberattack Against Russia
Officials say the new Trump cyberoperations order, National Security Presidential Memorandum 13 (NSPM 13), is designed to allow Defense Secretary James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to approve retaliatory strikes without the approval of others in the government, and in certain cases without White House approval.
It replaces an Obama-era executive order that required more extensive review before cyberweapons could be used offensively, called Presidential Policy Directive 20 (PPD 20). That order was classified but became public when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked it in 2013, as part of a broader effort by him to expose the scale of American cyberspying.
One of the key, unpublicized consequences of the new directive is that military planners can prepare for cyberstrikes—as called for in interagency agreements in advance—by gaining access to the computer systems of potential targets well before any order has been given to attack, or even before a foreign attack has occurred, the officials said. That access is meant to pave the way for deploying malware—packages of compromising computer instructions—swiftly inside foreign networks and servers, when a decision is made to proceed.