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Angus King: Attacks on Computer Systems Could Constitute Acts of War

WASHINGTON — Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are grappling with how to define and respond to the newest form of warfare — cyberwarfare. It's waged on the Internet, and we are not talking about video games.

The panel heard there are efforts every day to disrupt critical Internet-based systems that are vital to national security. U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says it's not good enough to worry about protecting those systems from attacks.

"Ultimately you got to have some sort of offensive capability, you got to be able to punch back or you simply are always on the defensive," he says.

King says it's easy to identify most acts of war, such a missile strike or a bombing attack. He says what is not well defined now is what constitutes war when it is waged to disrupt or cripple a nation's computer-based infrastructure.

"What is an act of war and when will we respond?" King says. "Because, if an act of war isn't defined, your opponent has to know that you're going to consider it an act of war and there will be a response."