This Tuesday, Kevin Cooley, executive director and command information officer for Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet, inferred that the Navy will soon be able to carry out offensive cyberattacks. “You don’t win a knife fight without swinging a knife,” Cooley said at a C4ISR & Networks conference in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday, writes Elise Viebeck of The Hill.

U.S. Navy To Add Cyber Warfare Capability

Navy to develop new capabilities

A new cyber strategy would appear to come in response to increased cyber aggression from China, Russia and other adversaries. “We’re spending time making sure we’re ready to execute should those options be considered appropriate by national command authority to do that,” continued Cooley.

Following a spate of cyber attacks, such as the hack on Sony Entertainment Pictures allegedly carried out by North Korea, corporate executives, security researchers and lawmakers have urged U.S. officials to go on cyber offensives rather than focusing on repelling attacks.

Figures in the world of business have been especially vocal about the need for offensive action, because U.S. businesses are under sustained attack from hackers based in, or working for, China, Russia and many other countries. Now it appears they may get their wish, with the Navy taking on a new role.

Cyber now another form of warfare

According to Cooley, the Navy is preparing itself to take on cyber offense duties, as well as four other initiatives such as training cyber forces. “Just like in other warfare domains we have the capability to be tactically offensive and tactically defensive [and] strategically offensive and strategically defensive,” the Navy director said, according to C4ISR & Networks.

He went on to claim that cyber warfare would be no different to other traditional forms of warfare, in that “being open about that capability is an important part of transparency that we acknowledge in any other form of warfare.”

Could the advent of offensive U.S. actions in the cyber warfare arena cause its online adversaries to invest more time and resources into their own defensive capabilities? Attack could turn out to be the best form of defense in reducing the cyber threat to U.S. businesses and official computer systems.