Today, Deputy Defence Secretary William Lynn admitted that in March, foreign hackers managed to obtain thousands of files on the United States “most sensitive systems” through the Pentagon. This revelation came about as the Pentagon began deploying their strategy to address cyber-attacks and strengthen the US’ cyber security.
As Mr Lynn was deploying the strategy he said how "In the 21st Century, bits and bytes can be as threatening as bullets and bombs" and that future attacks could even cause deaths - which is definitely possible if the 24,000 files stolen from a defence industry computer in March were used against the United States in some capacity.
Mr Lynn mentioned in his speech how some of these files were “mundane” things such as part specifications for tanks and airplanes. However, he also mentioned that “a great deal” of the files concerned the United States more sensitive systems, including surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems, network security protocols and aircraft avionics. He further mentioned that in the past, cyber hackers tried to obtain material on the US missile tracking systems.
Previous cyber-attacks have been blamed on nations such as China and Russia, however Mr Lynn mentioned the US have “a pretty good idea” who did it (but refrained from revealing who), also mentioning that the Pentagon fears that future attacks could come from terrorist groups rather than other nations. The Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace (PDF) hopes to prevent future cyber-attacks against the US and to be better prepared for a situation where it may occur.