This spring, the Pentagon quietly upgraded U.S. Cyber Command, giving it authority to launch daily, offensive cyber attacks against foreign computer networks, The New York Times reported Sunday.
In the past, Cyber Command operated mostly in a defensive mode, neutralizing digital threats and only rarely making offensive strikes against targets like the Islamic State. Though those strikes have had "mixed" results and can land the U.S. in difficult situations with allies, the Times notes, Cyber Command will now be able to engage in preventive, "constant, disruptive 'short of war' activities" against terrorist networks and state actors alike.
The decision to expand Cyber Command's power was not "formally debated inside the White House before it was issued," the Times reports, citing multiple current and former administration officials, all unnamed. In fact, shortly after National Security Adviser John Bolton took office this year, he eliminated the role of White House cybercoordinator.