Posted on: October 10, 2018
As the internet and connectivity start to take larger roles in every field, the security of connections and who has access to information has become a larger issue. Businesses are regularly reporting that they were subject to a hack and, despite many efforts, data is not always secured.
The Pentagon is the most recent organization to deal with this problem.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported that “nearly all” of the Pentagon’s new weapons systems were hacked – and with relative ease.
According to the GAO, “multiple test teams reported using free, publicly available information or software downloaded from the Internet to avoid or defeat weapon system security controls.”
Test teams were hired to test the security of the new systems, so the data was not under any real threat during the practice. However, the testers were able to get into the system easily, and many of them were able to remain undetected throughout the process.
Through these tests, mission-critical vulnerabilities were exposed in many of the new weapons. These weapons are all currently under development.
At the time of the report, the GAO hadn’t fully searched each aspect of the weapon systems, although it’s safe to assume that many of the same cyber issues would be present in most of the systems.
It’s also worth noting that the testers were using relatively simple methods to compromise the weapons’ security. More advanced cyber groups could do far more damage while remaining completely undetected.
Connectivity is going to be the future of the military. We already have drones that fly remotely, and the VA and government have taken steps to include AI in their futures.
Unfortunately, the more information these modern devices and weapons carry, the bigger risk they are.
The GOA points out all the areas of a weapon that could be compromised by a hack. For example, and autonomous drone could be hacked to change the friend or foe identity systems, affect the communication systems, hack the weapon’s database or disable the flight software system.
All of this is bad news, especially since the Department of Defense is planning on spending $1.66 trillion on these new weapons systems. Such prominent vulnerabilities could have proven to be catastrophic.
The vulnerability of modern weapons is nothing new, either. The Pentagon has long been feared to be vulnerable to cyber security attacks. But the problem isn’t with addressing the cyber threats, but with finding people to fix them. The DOD has struggled with finding eligible employees or workers to improve their cybersecurity.
At the end of their report, the GAO announced that they don’t have any recommendations for the DOD, although they also said that they plan to continue researching. While no recommendations were made, it’s clear that the DOD needs to step up their cyber defense.