Make us your home page
Instagram

Lockheed attack highlights rise in cyber espionage

NEW YORK — This cyber attack didn't go after people playing war games on their PlayStations. It targeted a company that helps the U.S. military do the real thing.

Lockheed Martin said it was the recent target of a "significant and tenacious" hack, although the defense contractor and the Department of Homeland Security insist the attack was thwarted before any critical data was stolen. The effort highlighted the fact that some hackers, including many working for foreign governments, set their sights on information that has the potential to be far more devastating than accessing credit cards.

Information security experts say a rash of cyber attacks this year — including a large security breach at Sony last month that affected millions of PlayStation users — has emboldened hackers and made them more willing to pursue sensitive information.

"2011 has really lit up the boards in terms of data breaches," said Josh Shaul, chief technology officer at New York-based Application Security, one of the largest database security software makers. "The list of targets just grows and grows."

Lockheed Martin said in a statement Saturday that it detected the May 21 attack "almost immediately" and took countermeasures.

"Our systems remain secure; no customer, program or employee personal data has been compromised," the Bethesda, Md., company said. Neither Lockheed Martin nor federal agencies would reveal specifics of the attack, or its origins.

Analysts said the latest attack would likely spur rival defense contractors like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Boeing to take additional steps to safeguard their systems.

Over the past several years, the U.S. government has become more aggressive in its efforts to tackle cybercrime, developing strategies to beef up government computer systems, expand cooperation with other countries and improve coordination with the private sector. President Barack Obama declared cybersecurity a top priority shortly after taking office in 2009.

Still, the attacks have continued. William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary, said in January that more than 100 foreign intelligence agencies have tried to breach U.S. defense computer networks, largely to steal military plans and weapons systems designs.

China is often pointed to as a source of cyber attacks because a large amount of malware, or malicious software, originates from there. The government denies it is involved, but experts say the high skill level of some attacks suggests the Chinese military, a leader in cyberwarfare research, or other agencies might be stealing technology and trade secrets to help state companies.

Rich Mogull, analyst and CEO of Phoenix-based security research firm Securosis, noted: "This is just what countries do," he said. "It's the unfortunate reality of how the world works."

Lockheed attack highlights rise in cyber espionage 05/30/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 12:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shell of Old GM Surfaces in Court Fight Over Ignition Flaw

    Autos

    DETROIT — For eight years, the shell of prebankruptcy General Motors has lingered on in the form of "old GM" — first as a corporate entity and now as an obscure trust designed to settle debts and claims left over from the company's huge financial collapse.

  2. Pinellas wants to see impact of tourism bucks spent on big events

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– Pinellas County relies on more than just beaches to attract visitors. County government also spends millions to help sponsor big-name events to draw even more tourists.

    The Pinellas County Tourist Development Council awareded up to $250,000 to help sponsor the 2018 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Appointments at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA and the Straz Center highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Charities

    The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has named Matt Mitchell its new chief executive officer, effective Oct. 16. Selected by the Y's CEO Search Committee following a five-month search, Mitchell will succeed Tom Looby, who is retiring. Looby has served the Y Movement for 37 years, the past 10 …

    The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has named Matt Mitchell as its new Chief Executive Officer. [Handout photo]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]