Cyber threat comparable to Iranian, North Korean missile danger
Chinese military hackers are conducting cyber attacks on the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency networks on a daily basis and will soon shift to hacking into networks of missile defense contractors, the admiral in charge of the agency told Congress on Thursday.
Vice Adm. James D. Syring, the MDA chief who is in charge of building multi-billion dollar anti-missile defenses, told a House hearing that while his networks are successfully fighting off the cyber attacks, missile defense contractors need to improve their network security.
The three-star admiral said the threat of Chinese cyber attacks was equal to North Korean and Iranian missile threats.
“I view the cyber threat that I specifically face with MDA and the systems we are fielding on par with any ballistic missile threat that either Iran or North Korea possess,” Syring said.
Asked by Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), the chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, if he is fighting off cyber attacks from Chinese military hackers, Syring answered: “Yes, sir.” He limited his comments and said he would provide details of the cyber threats during a later closed-door session of the subcommittee.
“My biggest concern remains in our cleared defense contractor base and their protections,” Syring added, noting that Chinese efforts to break into missile defense networks are relentless.
“They are continuing to try and attack my government networks, every day, classified and unclassified,” he said. “But where they’re going next and we’ve gotten examples of this is to my cleared defense contractors with the unclassified controlled technical information.”
Bolstering the network security of contractors is a high priority across the entire ballistic missile defense system, he said.
Foreign states are seeking to penetrate missile defenses and other weapons systems to steal technology and data for use in their own weapons. They also seek to disrupt or destroy the systems in the event of a crisis or conflict.
A report by the Defense Science Board warned in 2013 that critical U.S. weapons and other military systems are vulnerable to cyber attack.
“The United States cannot be confident that our critical Information Technology (IT) systems will work under attack from a sophisticated and well-resourced opponent utilizing cyber capabilities in combination with all of their military and intelligence capabilities (a ‘full spectrum’ adversary,” the report concluded.
Rogers, the subcommittee chairman, said in opening remarks at the hearing that after eight years of President Obama’s administration “our nation’s security is in more jeopardy than any time in recent memory.”
“North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and China are all advancing their ballistic and cruise missile programs, along with weapons of mass destruction programs, to put our military, our allies, and our homeland at risk,” Rogers said.
“At the same time, President Obama has cut missile defense practically every year he’s been in office,” he added. “America’s enemies know an opportunity when they see one; our allies see they are on their own.”
Full article: Admiral: China Launching Cyber Attacks on Missile Defense Nets ‘Every Day’ (Washington Free Beacon)