24,000 military files stolen: Pentagon
US Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III
US Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III says about 24,000 sensitive Pentagon computer files have been stolen by a foreign intelligence service.
The senior Pentagon official said the US Defense Department suffered one of its worst digital attacks in history in March during a single intrusion, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
"This was significant," Lynn told reporters.
"It was done, we think, by a foreign intelligence service. In other words a nation state was behind it," he said.
Lynn declined to identify any suspects. "We don't get into our understanding of exactly who it was," he said.
The Pentagon official said that the cyber attack by hackers was "just the latest in a series" and not the largest ever on a US defense contractor.
"We've been getting hit for the better half of five or six years in a serious way," Lynn said at an event during which he unveiled the Pentagon's new strategy for cyberspace.
In the event, he mentioned that the present passive security measures for the Pentagon cyberspace do not work anymore, and talked about a new strategy for safeguarding the top secret files like the stolen ones which concern, "aircraft avionics, surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems and network security protocols."
The Pentagon's new strategy, which is the final official piece of a larger effort launched by the Obama administration to defend computer networks operated by the government and the private sector, calls for actively looking for attackers on the Internet rather than waiting for an intruder to attack.
The military's new Cyber Command has been ordered to prepare for defensive and offensive operations on computer networks. Officials confirmed that the command has computer programs to carry out offensive operations in cyberspace if it is so ordered by the president.