The New York Times is reporting that the United States nearly chose to use “cyber weaponry” just before the American-led strikes against Libya in March by hacking into the Libyan government’s air defense control systems. While the exact techniques remain classified, the goal would have been to break through the firewalls of the Libyan government’s computer networks to sever military communications links and prevent the early-warning radars from gathering information and relaying it to missile batteries aiming at NATO warplanes. But it is reported that the commanding officers balked at the idea fearing that it might set a precedent for other nations, in particular Russia or China
It is then reported that the military commanders again contemplated on using Cyberattack tactics during the Navy Seals raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.
Naked Security: It is unclear exactly why the US didn’t proceed, but it appears several factors influenced the decision.
Some are suggesting that the urgency of the invasion may not have left an appropriate amount of time for the network attacks to proceed. Gaddafi’s troops were advancing quickly on the rebels, and breaking into their military networks would not have been as simple as it appears in the movies.
Another factor was a US law known as the War Powers Resolution. The President has limited powers to declare war without the approval of the US Congress. Would a cyber attack be construed as assistance to the NATO mission, or an act of war?