U.S. Arms Programs Significantly Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

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Security concept: Lock on digital screen, illustration

A Pentagon report stated most U.S. arms programs tested in 2014 show significant vulnerabilities to cyber attacks – even novice techniques allowed weapons network penetration. This report of cybersecurity vulnerabilities comes just days after officials learned U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said China had stolen terabytes of data about the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program.

Just how bad was the report? The Pentagon report showed that 40 weapons revealed problems with cybersecurity. And as mentioned above, breaching our weapons systems did not take advanced cyber attack techniques.

All of this begs us to ask the question, “Is it time for our military to rethink cyber warfare techniques and cybersecurity for U.S. arms programs?”

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Cyber Attacks on U.S. Arms Programs are a Serious Threat

Michael Gilmore – he Pentagon’s chief weapons tester – wrote the report sharing that United States arms programs are not just vulnerable, but “significantly vulnerable” to cyber attacks. And he also warned that those threats are not to be taken lightly.

In the report, Gilmore wrote, “Cyber adversaries have become as serious a threat to U.S. military forces as the air, land, sea and undersea threats represented in operational testing for decades.”

He went on to write, “The continued development of advanced cyber intrusion techniques makes it likely that determined cyber adversaries can acquire a foothold in most (Department of Defense) networks, and could be in a position to degrade important DOD missions when and if they chose to.”

Wy are U.S. Arms Programs Not Secure?

The report stated that reasons weapons programs were susceptible to cybersecurity breaches included misconfigured, unpatched and outdated software. What is very worrisome is that these vulnerabilities made it easy for even a novice hacker to breach our U.S. arms programs.

According to Gilmore, previous years of testing showed improvements in military cybersecurity. The 2014 testing, however, showed that the U.S. military weapons programs have reversed those improvements and began backsliding. Some of the security issues were due to simply not following Pentagon password policies.

The Pentagon did later report that classified data on U.S. F-35 jet fighter program remains secure.

Improving Military Cybernetics

One point of emphasis the report pointed out was the failure to address cybersecurity issues in weapons programs discovered during operational testing. These issues could be addressed and fixed during the developmental stage of U.S. arms programs testing.

What can we do besides focusing on securing our weapons programs and defense systems? The report showed that the military needs more cyber personnel. Also, U.S. troops must be trained to fight cyber attack as they are with conventional attacks.

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