Pentagon Admits Largest-Ever Cyber Theft to Date

Thursday, July 14, 2011

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Reports indicate the Department of Defense is disclosing news of the one of the largest data loss events to date, and the investigation leads officials to believe the intrusion was orchestrated by a foreign government.

The theft of around 24,000 sensitive Pentagon documents occurred in March of this year.

From the Associated Press:

The Pentagon is revealing that it suffered one of its largest-ever losses of sensitive defense data this spring to a cyber attack that it blames on an unspecified foreign government.

The loss is an example of why the Pentagon has developed new cyber security rules that emphasize deeper defenses, more collaboration with private industry and new steps to stop thefts by malicious insiders.


William Lynn, the deputy secretary of defense, said in a speech outlining the new strategy that 24,000 files were stolen from a defense industry computer network in a single intrusion in March. He offered no details.


In an interview, Lynn said the Pentagon has a good idea who made the attack but he would not offer details. He said it was by a nation rather an individual.

While the nation seeks to shore up cyber defense systems and protocols, Lynn states that the point is not to start a cyber arms race with competing world powers.

"Far from militarizing cyberspace, our strategy of securing networks to deny the benefit of an attack will help dissuade military actors from using cyberspace for hostile purposes," Lynn said in a speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.

"Our ability to identify and respond to a serious cyber attack is... only part of the strategy. Our strategy's overriding emphasis is on denying the benefit of an attack. If an attack will not have its intended effect, those who wish us harm will have less reason to target us through cyberspace in the first place," Lynn explained.

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