Cybersecurity

Army fights a two-front cyber war

Heidi Shyu, United States Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology

Heidi Shyu, asistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, says "cyber cuts across every single one of my programs."

The Army has been carefully testing its weapons systems for sophisticated cyber threats, but it was an attack on its public website this week that drew attention, underscoring the breadth of the cybersecurity challenge facing defense agencies.

No sensitive information was taken in the cyberattack, purportedly by Syrian hackers, of Army.mil, according to Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. At a June 10 appearance at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., Shyu did not respond directly to a question as to why it took several hours to get the Army website back online. She did, however, highlight how the Army is striving to better secure its more sensitive assets from cyber threats.

The Army has “red teams” of cyber specialists that are certified by the National Security Agency to test weapons and communications systems for vulnerabilities before they are deployed, Shyu said. “That’s a smart thing to do,” she added, “because these are holes we need to patch up.”

But Shyu told reporters after the event that the red teams do not test the systems for vulnerabilities once they’ve been deployed. Making fielded systems more cyber-secure is a stated priority for Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, though doing so represents a formidable challenge in cost and time.

In her four and a half years in the Army’s acquisition office, Shyu said she has worked to make the service’s various program executive offices less “stove-piped,” or cut off from each other, adding that this is particularly important when it comes to cybersecurity.

“Cyber cuts across every single one of my programs,” she said. “It’s not stove-piped. You don’t want … Cyber Command to talk to every single PEO individually – that’s just stupid.”

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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