US President Donald Trump has reportedly removed restraints on how and when the US can launch cyber attacks on its adversaries — and it could make attacks on other countries more likely.
Trump signed an order on Wednesday reversing a series of Obama-era rules, which outlined a process of inter-agency approval before the US can launch cyber offensives, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
One administration official briefed on the decision described the change as an “offensive step forward” because there will be fewer hurdles to overcome when an attack is being planned out.
The change is meant to support military operations and prevent foreign interference in US elections. It comes as the Trump administration is under pressure to show that it is taking threats of foreign interference seriously in light of mounting evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
The Obama-era rules, known as Presidential Policy Directive 20, meant that agencies that wanted to launch a cyber attack had to gain approval from groups across the federal government. This was to ensure that existing defense operations were not harmed by the launch of a new attack.