NSA looks to protect defense contractors from cyberattack

June 17, 2011
FedCyber Wire
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via Government Computer News

The National Security Agency, looking to protect another front of the cyber battlefield, is offering its own scanning tools to protect e-mail and other digital communications for major defense contractors, the Washington Post reports.

NSA uses sophisticated data sets to scan traffic for malicious activity, the Post reported. It began last month working with Internet providers AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink, formerly Qwest Communications, to offer its scanning to contractors on a voluntary, trial basis, according to the article. The service is being offered to 15 contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Computer Sciences Corp., Northrop Grumman and Science Applications International Corp.

The nature of their work makes defense contractors likely targets for cyberattacks from foreign governments and other sources. Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications, for example, recently suffered breaches.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, speaking at a security conference in Paris, said the approach could eventually be applied to other companies involved in the nation’s critical infrastructure, the Post reported.

The recent spate of cyberattacks has thrown a spotlight on potential acts of cyber espionage and cyber war.

The attack on Lockheed was carried out with information on RSA Security’s SecurID tokens that was collected when RSA Security was hacked in March. The tokens also may have been used in an attack on L-3 Communications.

And although recent hacks of federal websites – including those of the CIA and Senate – were apparently the work of hactivist groups looking to draw attention without doing damage, a targeted attack against Google Gmail included the accounts of U.S. government officials.

Richard Clarke, former presidential cybersecurity advisor, wrote June 15 in the Wall Street Journal that China is systematically infiltrating the United States’ digital infrastructure and meeting little resistance in the process.

Continued here.