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Hackers penetrate U.S. defense contractors’ security networks

By Muriel Kane
Friday, May 27, 2011 21:44 EDT
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Reuters is reporting that unknown hackers have broken into the networks of Lockheed Martin and other major defense contractors and may have gained access to sensitive information on present and future weapons systems.

Reuters had reported earlier on Friday that “Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier, is experiencing a major disruption to its computer systems that could be related to a problem with network security.” The disruption began last Sunday, when security experts detected an intrusion.

According to an anonymous source with knowledge of the attacks, the hackers used data stolen in March from the RSA security division of EMC Corp. to duplicate security keys which gave them access to the networks.

“You have no idea how many people are freaked out right now,” one security expert told Reuters, explaining that the RSA keys could no longer be considered fully secure.

Information security expert Rick Moy explained to Reuters that “the original attack on RSA was likely targeted at its customers, including military, financial, governmental and other organizations with critical intellectual property. He said the initial RSA attack was followed by malware and phishing campaigns seeking specific data that would link tokens to end-users, which meant the current attacks may have been carried out by the same hackers.”

Other defense contractors have either declined to comment on whether they have been affected or insist that their security systems are sufficient to defend against the attack. A former senior defense official also assured Reuters that “all classified information is kept on separate, closed networks managed by the U.S. government.”

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
 
 
 
 
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