U.S. Cyber Attack Reveals Continued Vulnerabilities

Avi Yashchin Cyber AttacksAs media outlets continue to learn more about the unprecedented scale of the recent cyber hacking on United States government employees, fears continue to mount in both the public and private sector. With an estimated 18 million government employees compromised in the attack, it’s easy to see why fears are mounting. Arms industry executives have expressed frustration as to how such a large scale cyber attack could have happened in the first place—especially since many of those hacked work on high security arms projects.

As China continues to deny culpability for the intricate spearfishing hack, the larger issue about government employees’ security and protection remains. The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) faces mounting concerns, as well as ongoing congressional hearings, about its security measures taken to prevent such attacks. Aside from access to Social Security numbers, data obtained by the hackers could be used to purloin highly sensitive government weapons program profiles, passwords and files. This chink in the United States weapon industry’s armor leaves U.S. weapons networks vulnerable to future attacks.

The real question is: could this have been averted, and how? Dave Wajsgras, head of Raytheon Co’s Intelligence, Information and Services business, told Reuters that he had previously raised alarms about pre-existing private and government breaches, and was distressed how easily OPM was hacked.

“There is a tsunami of threats that exist in the cyber domain today. It’s something that we all collectively need to take much more seriously,” he added, suggesting more spending for proactive bolstering security in government and the private sector.

Even after network breaches of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps servers last year, the OPM’s network was reportedly not encrypted. These continued hacks raise increasing concerns about the level of (in)security maintained by the agency.

After a weapons tester reported network vulnerabilities in weapons programs, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has proposed a $200 million Pentagon’s fiscal budget increase next year. But whether injecting more funds into a failing cyber security system will deter an indefatigable foe will suffice is yet to be determined.


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