Cyberattacks against DOD up 300 percent this year

Atlantic City—The number of cyberattacks reported this year against the Defense Department's information networks has more than tripled compared with last year, according to the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The number of reported cyberattacks or unauthorized intrusions into DOD networks and systems skyrocketed from 5,844 in 1998 to 18,433 so far during 1999, according to Lt. Gen. David Kelley, director of DISA and manager of the National Communications System. Because not all attacks and intrusions are detected or reported by local system administrators and security officials, that number could be significantly higher.

Speaking on Nov. 1 at the MILCOM 1999 conference, a three-day symposium focusing in military communications issues in the 21st century, Kelley said a look at the past five years indicates that cybersecurity and cyberwarfare is a "growth industry." According to Kelley, DOD organizations in 1994 reported only 225 attacks or unauthorized network intrusions—roughly 1 percent of the number reported so far in 1999.

"We need smarter systems that can help heal themselves," Kelley said, outlining his ideas for a departmentwide information assurance program. "Hope is not a strategy," he said. "With 100 percent certainty, this nation will face an information attack...[and] a serious one. We've got to get prepared."

A sustained and coordinated intrusion into DOD networks that took place between January and March remains under investigation by the FBI [FCW, March 8]. The high-profile incident has led investigators to believe the hackers launched their attack using systems residing in Russia. However, no evidence has been released that indicates the Russian government in the attack.


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