President Obama has reportedly signed a secret directive set to change the way the US government handles cyber security threats.
The so-called Presidential Policy Directive 20 sets a number of policy guidelines for federal agencies that suffer cyber attacks. The new directive updates a previous cybersecurity initiative that was ordered in 2004.
According to The Washington Post's unnamed sources, the directive is the first governmental document to set up different guidelines for network defense and cyber operations.
President Obama's new directive will now reportedly change what kind of attacks are considered offensive cyber attacks. The directive details an acceptable code of conduct for federal agencies that attempt to take cyber defence initiatives outside of the government's official networks.
The new directive could also pave the way for the US to expand cyber defence operations beyond its own shores. For example the paper says US officials could now order the severing of a connection between a foreign server and US hacker.
Reports of the new directive go in line with a recent warning from US defence secretary Leon Panetta. The defence chief told an audience in New York last month that the US must make changes to better prepare itself for a potential cyber attack on its infrastructure.
News of the new directive comes following president Obama's recent re-election. During his first-term the president proved to be willing to expand the government's use of cyber tools for defense purposes.
A report from early this year discovered that president Obama approved the use of the Stuxnet virus. According to reports, Obama used the virus to cripple Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities.