Pentagon bolsters vulnerable cyber perimeter

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is moving to help protect a number of U.S. defense contractors from cyber attacks.

If implemented successfully, the Pentagon’s nascent pilot program will likely serve as a possible model for other government agencies to follow.

To be sure, the DHS is already evaluating the strategy as a potential way to protect power plants, electric grids and other critical infrastructure in the near future.

“The results this far are very promising,” confirmed Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn.

“I do think it offers the potential opportunity to add a layer of protection to the most critical sectors of our infrastructure.”

According to the Associated Press, the extraction of classified data from military and corporate systems is steadily increasing, with intrusions into defense networks accounting for approximately 30% of the Pentagon’s Cyber Crime Center’s workload. 

Unsurprisingly, the digital infiltrations have promoted a number of U.S. officials and politicians to warn against the escalating dangers of a cyber attacks.

“Cyber actually can bring us to our knees,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who added that the Pentagon may need to develop a “governing structure” similar to how the U.S. and allies monitor and limit nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, cyber security expert James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies believes agencies like the DHS will face “tough hurdles” in their efforts to extend the above-mentioned pilot program to specific infrastructure or additional defense-related contractors. 

As Lewis notes, the Pentagon already boasts multi-million dollar contracts with defense companies, which makes it somewhat easier to expand current relationships and link cyber threat cooperation to future contracts.

In contrast, the DHS currently lacks a similar relationship with electric companies, power generation plants and financial firms.

“[Still], if they move smartly, it could be done in two years. This is not an insolvable problem… [Clearly], DHS needs more authorities to oversee the process. [But yes], they [do] have to work through antitrust, information sharing and privacy issues,” he added.