Cyber threats added to US-Australia defense treaty

U.S. and Australian leaders meeting in San Francisco, September 14, 2011

From Phil Stewart, Reuters:  The United States and Australia will take the rare step on Thursday of declaring the cyber realm as part of a mutual defense treaty, meaning that a cyber attack on one could lead to a response by both nations.

Defense and diplomatic chiefs from the United States and Australia are meeting in San Francisco some 60 years after the birth of the ANZUS military alliance, which commits Australia and the United States to support each other if one is attacked. . . .

"We will be releasing a joint statement saying that the ANZUS treaty applies to cyber space," a senior U.S. defense official said.

The treaty itself states that an armed attack in the Pacific on any of the countries would require each nation to "act to meet the common danger," although there is no automatic trigger for a response.

It appeared to be the first explicit application of the cyber realm to a mutual defense treaty outside of NATO.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said applying the cyber realm to the treaty underscored the way the U.S. views the cyber threat.

"I think it’s in large measure a recognition of what I’ve been saying time and time again, which is that cyber is the battlefield of the future," Panetta said on Wednesday, speaking to reporters on his flight to San Francisco.

"We’re all going to have to work very hard not only to defend against cyber attacks but to be aggressive with regards to cyber attacks as well.

"And the best way to accomplish that is not only on our own but by working with our partners."   (photo: AP)

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