Report: Obama signed secret cyber directive in October

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The military now has more room to aggressively maneuver in cyberspace, thanks to a secret directive signed by President Barack Obama in October.

The Washington Post recently revealed that Obama signed the directive — called Presidential Directive 20 — to give “a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace[.]”

The directive states that, before turning to military cyber units, the government will first turn to law enforcement or “traditional network defense techniques before asking military cyberwarfare units for help or pursuing other alternatives,” senior government officials who saw the classified document told the Washington Post.

“For the first time, the directive explicitly makes a distinction between network defense and cyber operations to guide officials charged with making often rapid decisions when confronted with threats,” reported The Washington Post Wednesday.

Network defense refers to protective measures taken within an organization’s network, while cyber operations consist of activities outside of that space.

“In the Barack Obama administration, the directives that are used to promulgate presidential decisions on national security matters are designated Presidential Policy Directives (PPDs),” according to the Federation of American Scientists.

A cybersecurity executive order is expected to come from the administration, as well.

Lawmakers have struggled over the past several years to find the right balance between protecting privacy rights and addressing perceived and real cyber threats posed by state-sponsored actors, organized crime and community “hacktivists.”

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