The Obama administration changed federal policy allowing the military to step in and assist during a cyber-attack on domestic soil, reported the New York Times on Oct. 21.
With the exception of natural disasters, the military cannot deploy units within the country's borders. Even for natural disasters, a presidential order is required before moving the troops out.
Under the new agreement between the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, the military's cyber experts can be called upon in case of an attack targeting critical computer networks inside the United States, according to the article.
Robert J. Butler, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for cyber policy, told the New York Times that the rules change will allow agencies to focus how to respond to attacks on critical computer networks.
With the new rules, the officials in charge of domestic security can take advantage of the Pentagon's military expertise and the intelligence expertise of the National Security Agency.
Officials decided on the policy change because most of the government's computer network defense capabilities and expertise are within the Pentagon while most of the key targets are on domestic soil, officials told the New York Times. Targets may be within the government but can also be public-facing operations like financial networks and regional power grids, the paper said.
For more, read the eWeek article Pentagon to Help Homeland Security Fight Cyber-Attacks on U.S. Soil.