According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, the United States has plans to launch a cyber attack on Russia if there are any signs of interference in next week’s mid-term elections.
Based on the report, it has been revealed that the Department of Defense, as well as others in the American intelligence community, have created a full blueprint to launch an offensive cyber attack on Russia following the election on November 6, but only if there is any interference similar to that in the 2016 election is discovered.
According to the report, unnamed current and former senior US officials that are aware of the plan are the sources.
Details regarding what the actual plan is are minimal, but it would involve American hackers in the military who have been granted permission to access Russian servers in order to carry out attacks.
What Russia would have to do to trigger an attack has been described as simply directly interfering with midterm elections, according to reports. Those actions would include interference with voter registration rolls and vote tallies.
An American attack wouldn’t come if Russia were to only try to “malign influence,” according to the report, which includes “trying to sway peoples’ opinion or the way people might vote.”
The report also reveals the cyber warfare has become a more important part of the American armed forces and made efforts to integrate it more closely with its military strategy. The intelligence community has also voiced their concerns about the growing threat of cyber attacks in the United States.
Russia has already put forth some attempts to exert some influence the midterm elections, as Russian-fueled far-right propaganda has been discovered on Facebook.
Earlier in 2018, a Russian woman named Elena Khusyaynova was accused of operating a scheme worth $35 million to create thousands of accounts on social media in order to spread divisive far-left and far-right rhetoric on Facebook and Twitter.
The Pentagon’s plan came about after Donald Trump signed an executive order that eased rules regarding the use of digital weapons when used to protect national security.
The main crux of the executive order would allow Defense Secretary Jams Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to launch cyber attacks in retaliation without having to seek approval from any other government authorities, according to the report. The majority of the details in the order remain classified.
Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton spoke on the topic back in September, saying “For any nation that’s taking cyberactivity against the United States, they should expect… we will respond offensively as well as defensively.”