CELEBRITY APPRENTICE HOST Donald Trump has relaxed US government rules on the use of cyber weapons, reversing stricter rules drawn up in a memorandum under President Obama.
Trump signed the order - Presidential Policy Directive 20 - on Wednesday, which maps out the inter-agency processes that must be followed before the US resorts to cyber attacks. However, specific details of the Directive will remain confidential.
Before his election, Trump had indicated plans for the US to take a more proactive, offensive approach to cyber security. "I will make certain that our military is the best in the world in both cyber offence and defence," Trump said in a campaign speech on 3 October 2016.
"As a deterrent against attacks on our critical resources, the United States must possess the unquestioned capacity to launch crippling cyber counter-attacks… America's dominance in this arena must be unquestioned."
However, the shift in stance comes after the appointment of John Bolton in April as national security advisor and the elimination of the role of White House cybersecurity coordinator, giving Bolton the leeway to pursue a more proactive stance on cybersecurity issues.
It also comes after reports in June that indicated that Trump had already approved such measures.
"Until now, the Cyber Command has assumed a largely defensive posture, trying to counter attackers as they enter American networks," reported the New York Times in June.
"In the relatively few instances when it has gone on the offensive, particularly in trying to disrupt the online activities of the Islamic State and its recruiters in the past several years, the results have been mixed at best.
"But in the spring, as the Pentagon elevated the command's status, it opened the door to nearly daily raids on foreign networks, seeking to disable cyberweapons before they can be unleashed, according to strategy documents and military and intelligence officials."
President Obama's rules for offensive cybersecurity actions, like Trump's, were also classified. However, the procedures were leaked by US National Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden in 2013. µ
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