President Obama could order retaliatory cyber attacks against Russia after accusing the nation of coordinating hacks against US political parties and systems.
The US officially accused Russia of being behind the incidents at the end of the last week, believing it to be an effort to undermine faith in US political infrastructure, as the country is accused of doing in eastern Europe.
“These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow. The Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion,” US intelligence agencies said on 7 October.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in response to reports from Air Force One that Obama is considering a possible US response, although his decision is not likely to be made public.
"There are a range of responses that are available to the president and he will consider a response that is proportional," he said, according to a report on Reuters.
"It is certainly possible that the president can choose response options that we never announce."
The comments are clearly open to interpretation, and there is no guarantee that the US will instigate any response. However, Obama has made plain on several occasions that the US has significant cyber capabilities for defensive and offensive purposes.
Furthermore, relations between the US and Russia are eroding all the time, and the US will no doubt want to make clear to its old adversary that it too could suffer if the US chooses to engage in the cyber arena.
The US has already started to take action in this area, notably ordering the arrest of five members of the Chinese army for hacking into US companies and government organisations, and accusing North Korea of the hack on Sony Pictures in 2014.
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