100 foreign agencies test US networks: Official

More than 100 foreign intelligence agencies have tried to breach US defense networks, largely to steal military plans and weapons systems designs, a top Pentagon official has said.

Updated: Feb 16, 2011, 11:47 AM IST

Washington: More than 100 foreign
intelligence agencies have tried to breach US defense
networks, largely to steal military plans and weapons systems
designs, a top Pentagon official has said.
Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said that while
foreign governments and rogue states may try to launch more
destructive attacks against military networks, most may stick
to theft and spying because they are worried about a US
counter attack.

He provided no details on the foreign cyber intrusions.

The greater threat, he said, are terror groups such as
al-Qaida, who are more difficult to deter because they have
nothing to lose.

Terrorists have vowed to unleash cyber attacks, and
over time may be able to either develop their own malicious
computer threats or buy them on the black market.
Lynn`s remarks, made at a cyber security conference in
San Francisco, come as the US government is struggling to ramp
up its abilities to block cyber intrusions and to lay out
policies for launching the high-tech attacks when needed.

US government sites are scanned and attacked millions
of times a day, and there have been a number of serious
breaches in recent years including into the electric grid and
Pentagon weapons contractors.

The biggest challenge faced by the US as it looks to
better gird against attacks, Lynn said, is finding ways to
share threat information with private industry which owns or
operates as much as 85 per cent of the networks.

Those include much of the nation`s critical
infrastructure, ranging from the electric grid, banking and
other financial systems and nuclear power plants.

The idea raises privacy concerns with the prospect of
US military or government eyes or ears on private networks.

Lynn said the government`s intelligence capabilities
give it broad knowledge of cyber threats, and the US already
shared unclassified information on a limited basis with
defense companies that have sensitive data on their networks.

The challenge, he said, is developing the policies and legal
structure so that classified information about threats can
also be shared.

PTI