US President, Donald Trump, announced on Thursday a new strategy for cyberspace that promises to increase the "offensive" actions of Washington in that area, to deter countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea from attacking the American infrastructure.
In addition to publishing a declassified version of the strategy, the White House confirmed that Trump has repealed the policy governing US secret operations in cyberspace under Barack Obama administration (2009-2017), which could give the Pentagon more flexibility to launch cyber attacks.
"My administration will use all available means to keep America safe from cyber threats," Trump said in a statement.
"America built the Internet and shared it with the world; now we will do our part to secure and preserve cyberspace for future generations," he added.
Trump has already "authorized offensive cyber assaults" to deter future attacks, according to Trump's national security adviser John Bolton at a press conference.
"We're going to do a lot of things offensively. Our adversaries need to know that. I think it's important for people to understand: We're not just on defense," the official said.
According to Bolton, Trump repealed "several weeks ago" the so-called "presidential directive 20", a confidential document signed by Obama that was made public in 2013, when ex-National Security Agency (NSA) analyst Edward Snowden unveiled 1.7 millions of files on the country's spy programs.
This measure obliged the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies to consult other departments of the Government before launching cyber attacks, in order to prevent these operations from harming any diplomatic effort or confidential US mission.
The new confidential rules of Trump, which according to The Wall Street Journal are called "presidential resolution of national security 13", seek to give more flexibility to the Pentagon to launch cyber attacks without having to go through this complex process before.
"Our hands are not tied, as they were in the Obama Administration," Bolton said.
From now on, each government agency will be able to design its own actions in the face of possible cyberspace threats, with the White House National Security Council - headed by Bolton - as coordinator.
The declassified version of the 40-page strategy does not detail the offensive tactics planned by the country, but it recognizes that Washington is "engaged in a continuous competition against strategic adversaries, rogue states and terrorist and criminal networks."
"Russia, China, Iran and North Korea all use cyberspace as a means to challenge the United States, its allies and partners, often with a recklessness they would never consider in other domains," the document said.
"These adversaries use cyber tools to undermine our economy and democracy, steal our intellectual property and sow discord in our democratic processes," it adds.
The Government has promised to take actions if it detects again an electoral interference like the one that took place in 2016, when thousands of e-mails were stolen from the National Democratic Committee (DNC) and from the presidential campaign of its candidate, Hillary Clinton.
"We are vulnerable to peacetime cyber attacks against critical infrastructure, and the risk is growing that these countries (the four countries mentioned above) will conduct cyber attacks against the United States during a crisis short of war," the strategy points out.
The White House considers that its "deterrance" initiative will be more impactful if it is carried out in concert with a broader coalition of like-minded states, so it plans to "launch an International 'Cyber Deterrance' Initiative," "a coalition" to "coordinate and support" each other's response to significant "malicious cyber incidents", the text reads.