WASHINGTON - The United States reserves the right to retaliate with military force against a cyber attack and is working to sharpen its ability to track down the source of any breach, the Pentagon said in a report made public on Tuesday.
The 12-page report to Congress, mandated by the 2011 Defense Authorization Act, was one of the clearest statements to date of US cyber security policy and the role of the military in the event of a computer-borne attack.
"When warranted, we will respond to hostile attacks in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country," the report said. "We reserve the right to use all necessary means - diplomatic, informational, military and economic - to defend our nation, our allies, our partners and our interests."
Hostile acts, it said, could include "significant cyber attacks directed against the US economy, government or military" and the response could use electronic means or more conventional military options.