US prepared to use force to foil cyber attackers
The United States is seriously concerned about cyber-attacks and is prepared to use force against those it considers an act of war, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said at a security meeting in Asia.
He also assured Asian allies that the United States would protect sea lanes and maintain a robust military presence in the region despite a severe budget crunch and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We take the cyber threat very seriously and we see it from a variety of sources, not just one or another country," Gates said, in what was an apparent reference to reports that several of the attacks may have originated in China.
"We could avoid some serious international tensions in the future if we could establish some rules of the road as early as possible to let people know what kinds of acts are acceptable, what kinds of acts are not and what kinds of acts may in fact be acts of war."
Earlier this week, Google said it had disrupted a campaign aimed at stealing passwords of hundreds of Google email account holders, including senior US government officials, Chinese activists and journalists.