Mark Collins – The Pentagon: Cyber-Suckered

Further to this post,

The Internet of Things, or…

…as Robert J. Samuelson puts things:

Internet roulette

let’s look at the US defence department:

For Years, the Pentagon Hooked Everything To The Internet. Now It’s a “Big, Big Problem” The Internet of Things is supposed to make life easier. For the Pentagon, the quintessential early adopter, it has made life much harder 

Once upon a time, very smart people in the Pentagon be­lieved that con­nect­ing sens­it­ive net­works, ex­pens­ive equip­ment, and power­ful weapons to the open In­ter­net was a swell idea. This ubi­quit­ous con­nectiv­ity among devices and ob­jects — what we now call the In­ter­net of Things — would al­low them to col­lect per­form­ance data to help design new weapons, mon­it­or equip­ment re­motely, and real­ize myri­ad oth­er be­ne­fits. The risks were less as­sidu­ously cata­logued.

That strategy has spread huge vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies across the De­fense De­part­ment, its net­works, and much of what the de­fense in­dustry has spent the past sev­er­al dec­ades cre­at­ing.

“We are try­ing to over­come dec­ades of a thought pro­cess … where we as­sumed that the de­vel­op­ment of our weapon sys­tems that ex­tern­al in­ter­faces, if you will, with the out­side world were not something to be overly con­cerned with,” Adm. Mi­chael Ro­gers, the com­mand­er of Cy­ber Com­mand [double-hatted as head of the NSA], told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day [Oct. 7]. “They rep­res­en­ted op­por­tun­ity for us to re­motely mon­it­or activ­ity, to gen­er­ate data as to how air­craft, for ex­ample, or ships’ hulls were do­ing in dif­fer­ent sea states around the world. [These are] all pos­it­ives if you’re try­ing to de­vel­op the next gen­er­a­tion of cruis­er [or] des­troy­er for the Navy.”

But in a world where such pub­lic in­ter­faces are points of vul­ner­ab­il­ity, Ro­gers said, ad­versar­ies de­vel­op strategies based on steal­ing Pentagon data, and then fash­ion copycat weapons such as China’s J-31 fight­er, which many call a cheap­er cous­in to the F-35.

“That’s where we find ourselves now. So one of the things I try to re­mind people is: It took us dec­ades to get here. We are not go­ing to fix this set of prob­lems in a few years,” Ro­gers told the sen­at­ors. “We have to pri­or­it­ize it, fig­ure out where is the greatest vul­ner­ab­il­ity.”..

Lots more on cyber security here.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


One thought on “Mark Collins – The Pentagon: Cyber-Suckered”

  1. Meanwhile:

    “Obama Won’t Seek Access to Encrypted User Data

    The Obama administration has backed down in its bitter dispute with Silicon Valley over the encryption of data on iPhones and other digital devices, concluding that it is not possible to give American law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to that information without also creating an opening that China, Russia, cybercriminals and terrorists could exploit.

    With its decision, which angered the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies, the administration essentially agreed with Apple, Google, Microsoft and a group of the nation’s top cryptographers and computer scientists that millions of Americans would be vulnerable to hacking if technology firms and smartphone manufacturers were required to provide the government with “back doors,” or access to their source code and encryption keys.

    That would enable the government to see messages, photographs and other data now routinely encrypted on smartphones. Current technology puts the keys for access to the information in the hands of the individual user, not the companies.

    …The National Security Agency spends vast sums to get around digital encryption, and it has tools and resources that local law enforcement officials still do not have and most likely never will…”

    Mark Collins

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