Cyber Intel Threatens Joint Strike Fighter
Computer hackers, apparently working as spies, have stolen "several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems" at the heart of the Defense Department's massively expensive Joint Strike Fighter program.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the intrusion raises questions about whether adversaries will be able to parlay the hack attack data into better defenses against the F-35 Lightning II.
It also points to something inadequate about the defenses of contractors behind the program. The Journal reported that the bad guys got to the data through "vulnerabilities in the networks of two or three contractors helping to build the high-tech fighter jet, according to people who have been briefed on the matter. Lockheed Martin is the lead contractor on the program, and Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems PLC also play major roles in its development.
"Lockheed Martin and BAE declined to comment. Northrop referred questions to Lockheed."
It also raises questions -- again, for the umpteenth time -- about the incredible and persistent vulnerabilities that have made government and corporate computers the equivalent of Swiss cheese. Counter-intelligence authorities worry that a growing number of hackers are operating on behalf of foreign governments.
Did someone mention China?
Seriously, no one knows for sure who is at play here. But feds have their suspicions, according to the Journal: Former U.S. officials say the attacks appear to have originated in China. However it can be extremely difficult to determine the true origin because it is easy to mask identities online.
"A Pentagon report issued last month said that the Chinese military has made 'steady progress' in developing online-warfare techniques. China hopes its computer skills can help it compensate for an underdeveloped military, the report said."
That's unfair, according to Chinese officials. Really unfair.
"The Chinese Embassy said in a statement that China 'opposes and forbids all forms of cyber crimes.' It called the Pentagon's report 'a product of the Cold War mentality' and said the allegations of cyber espionage are 'intentionally fabricated to fan up China threat sensations.'
Folks, cybersecurity is a serious and growing problem. When are we going to begin taking it more seriously?
By Robert O'Harrow |
April 21, 2009; 4:29 PM ET
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