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Home > Cyberwar, Security > The Mother Of All Breaches

The Mother Of All Breaches


The Pentagon, looking northeast with the Potom...

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Update July 15: Reuters reports that hat a classified US military weapons system will now need to be redesigned after specs and plans for the system were stolen from a defense contractor database during the breach of March,

According to an AP Statement, on Thursday the Pentagon revelead to have suffered a breach of 24,000 documents in March, during a single intrusion. Particularly interesting is the fact that sources believe the attack was perpetrated by a Foreign Country, confirming the fact that  cyberspace has really become the fifth domain of war (earlier in this year China had been charged to have hacked some gmail accounts including those of senior US and South Korean government officials, and similarly at the end of 2009 some gmail accounts belonging to dissidents).

According to the original statement by AP:

William Lynn, the deputy secretary of defense, said in a speech outlining the strategy that 24,000 files containing Pentagon data were stolen from a defense industry computer network in a single intrusion in March. He offered no details about what was taken but in an interview before the speech he said the Pentagon believes the attacker was a foreign government. He didn’t say which nation.

“We have a pretty good idea” who did it, Lynn said the interview. He would not elaborate.

For the chronicle, DoD operates over 15,000 networks and seven million computing devices across hundreds of installations in dozens of countries around the globe.

It is not a coincidence that at the beginning of the year Pentagon declared that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that

for the first time opened the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force (probably at that time they were alre

ady aware of the above attack, which explains the change in strategy).

In the same wake, yesterday the Department of Defence announced its Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, which relies on five strategic initiatives. At first glance the strategy aims to defend and prevent with a measured, reasonable approach focused on good network hygiene and data-sharing, rather than bombing hackers into submission.

  • Strategic Initiative 1: Treat cyberspace as an operational domain to organize, train, and equip so that DoD can take full advantage of cyberspace’s potential;
  • Strategic Initiative 2: Employ new defense operating concepts to protect DoD networks and systems;
  • Strategic Initiative 3: Partner with other U.S. government departments and agencies and the private sector to enable a whole-of-government cybersecurity strategy;
  • Strategic Initiative 4: Build robust relationships with U.S. allies and international partners to strengthen collective cybersecurity;
  • Strategic Initiative 5: Leverage the nation’s ingenuity through an exceptional cyber workforce and rapid technological innovation.

Honestly Speaking I must confess that, as soon as I stumbled upon this report I could not help thinking (but this is a mere personal speculation) to the RSA Breach. Details of the Pentagon breach are not known so far, but I would not be surprised if they were somehow related. On the other hand the RSA breach happened in mid-March and was followed to attacks towards three US Defense Contractors (L-3, happened at the beginning of April but disclosed at the end of May, Lockheed Martin, discovered on May, the 22nd, and Northrop Grumman on May, the 26th). Only a coincidence?

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