(HuffPost) Foreign hackers infiltrated the network of a defense contractor in March, stealing 24,000 military files in a single intrusion, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn disclosed Thursday.
The disclosure revealed one of the most devastating data breaches suffered by the Defense Department to date and marked the latest instance of hackers successfully penetrating the Pentagon’s cyber armor to obtain sensitive information.
“It is a significant concern that, over the past decade, terabytes of data have been extracted by foreign intruders from corporate networks of defense companies,” Lynn said as he unveiled the Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy.
While some of the military data stolen by hackers is “mundane,” Lynn said much of it is related to sensitive Pentagon systems, including aircraft, surveillance and satellite communications.
“Current countermeasures have not stopped this outflow of sensitive information,” he said. “We need to do more to guard our digital storehouses of design innovation.”
Back in 2008, a foreign intelligence agency placed malicious code on a flash drive that was inserted into a military laptop connected to a network run by the U.S. Central Command. “That code spread undetected on both classified and unclassified systems,” Lynn wrote in an article published last fall in Foreign Affairs magazine.
In May, military contractor Lockheed Martin revealed that its system was infiltrated by hackers. And on Monday, hackers breached the network of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, releasing what the company reports to be 90,000 military email addresses and passwords.