Defense contractor Lockheed Martin was hacked by suspected Chinese intruders several weeks ago, and Google and several other U.S. corporations have been victims of cyber-attacks. Computer security specialists say China and Russia have sophisticated computer warfare capabilities.
Foreign spies broke into a U.S. defense contractor’s computer network and stole valuable weapons data, Pentagon officials disclosed for the first time on Thursday in releasing a cybersecurity strategy aimed at bolstering Internet defenses.
Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III declined to name the contractor or to provide further details of the intrusion in March, except to say that 24,000 files “related to [weapons] systems being developed for the Department of Defense” had been stolen.
“We think it was a foreign intelligence service,” he said, adding that such thefts were the most common forms of cyber-attack directed at the United States.
“The most prevalent cyberthreat to date has been exploitation — the theft of information and intellectual property from government and commercial networks,” he said in a speech at the National Defense University, calling such attacks “deeply corrosive in the long term.”
Thefts like those in March have bedeviled the defense industry for more than five years, said Mr. Lynn, adding that the information stolen in such computer break-ins related to “a wide swath of crucial military hardware, extending from missile tracking systems and satellite navigation devices to [unmanned aerial vehicles] and the Joint Strike Fighter.”