(National Sentinel) Hacking Back: Military hackers in the United States have been given the green light to launch attacks against Russian cyber systems if U.S. intelligence detects any attempts by Moscow to meddle in the midterm elections on Tuesday.

Yahoo News reports that the intelligence community and the Pentagon have quietly agreed upon outlines of a cyber offensive the U.S. would launch if Russian election interference is found, according to senior officials who are aware of the plan.

If Russian electronic meddling is detected, American cyber warriors would gain access to Russian cyber systems very quickly.

Yahoo News noted further:

The effort constitutes one of the first major cyber battle plans organized under a new government policy enabling potential offensive operations to proceed more quickly once the parameters have been worked out in advance and agreed among key agencies.

While U.S. national security officials have so far reported only intermittent efforts by Russian sources to compromise political organizations and campaigns, they have been worried — in the aftermath of Russia’s digital contact with U.S. election systems in 2016 — that Moscow might unleash more aggressive interference in the hours before voting begins, while the polls are open, or when the votes are being tabulated.

The existence of such a plan means that America is more fully integrating offensive cyberattacks into its overall military planning systems, a move likely to make cyber combat more likely and eventually more commonplace, sometimes without first gaining specific presidential approval. Cyberattacks are now on a more obvious path, in short, to becoming a regular currency of warfare.

Much of what has been reported regarding so-called “Russian meddling” in the 2016 election to “help” President Donald Trump is bogus, as we’ve documented over the past two years. Events related to Spygate, however, are not what’s being considered here.

Russia is believed to have at least attempted to have gained widespread access to U.S. balloting systems but American intelligence officials have said repeatedly that no votes were changed.

Moscow was also accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, but the DNC and Clinton never allowed the FBI’s cyber forensic teams to examine their servers so there’s no hard data to prove it. Moscow has denied it as so has Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was sent hacked emails from those systems and released them.

The Pentagon’s cyber plan is the first one to be devised following an August executive order from POTUS Trump “that simplifies and shortens the review for such operations,” Yahoo News reported.

The Pentagon would not discuss the details of their plan. However, to generate a U.S. response the Russian action would have to be something more than “malign influence … trying to sway peoples’ opinion or the way people might vote,” according to a senior administration official who described the plan to reporters on Oct. 31 during a call organized by the White House. “This is something that has happened since the dawn of the republic.”

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