Since Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey yesterday revealed the U.K. Government's sponsored development of cyber weapons, a report from the Washington post has revealed that the U.S.A. also has a similar sponsorship programme currently under way.
The report from the Washington Post revealed that like the U.K. the U.S. Pentagon has developed its own arsenal of cyber weapons and tools designed to combat the growing threat cyber crime poses.
The report highlighted several potential government made cyber weapons, including a state made computer virus designed to sabotage hostile computer networks.
The revelation reportedly came from an unnamed military official working for the Pentagon.
Despite the classification of the systems and programmes in development as weapons, like the U.K. the U.S. report highlighted how the Government had sponsored their development for primarily defensive reasons.
Despite this, the report did highlight that the new protocols would allow U.S. forces to access and sabotage foreign networks as long as the move receives presidential authorisation.
Similar to the nuclear situation during the Cold War, the report went on to state that the Government was creating hostile programmes and strategies "to deter or deny a potential adversary the ability to use its computer systems" -- i.e. to deter attacks through the threat of mutually assured destruction.
The reveal comes just after U.K. Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey confirmed the existence of a similar U.K.-based development programme in an interview the British Guardian newspaper.
In the interview Harvey mirrored Chancellor George Osborne's sentiment that the online, cyber arena would prove to be one of the century's biggest battlegrounds, commenting, "action in cyberspace will form part of the future battlefield". The minister went on to describe the new cyber-weapons as, "an integral part of the country's armoury".
Unlike the Post's revelation, Harvey's comments gave no firm details about the exact nature of the U.K.'s cyber weapons. Though he did go on to promise that they were being developed using the same ethical guidelines used in the country's real-world weapon development schemes.
The announcement of the two countries funding comes just after a series of successful cyber attacks have left numerous companies -- and potentially government agencies -- security systems compromised.
One of the biggest of these has been Sony's ongoing PSN nightmare. The company fell victim to a cyber-attack in mid-April that left up to 100 million PSN user's account and billing details compromised. The attack cost Sony a reported $171 million and is yet to be fully resolved.
More recently the security companies RSA Security and L-3 Communications have been reported as falling victim to similar attacks. RSA's potentially compromised SecurID products could leave as many as 250 million users systems at risk.
Neither government has confirmed how long its sponorship programmes have been active, nor what future weapons are currently in development.