Oct 9, 2018

Report finds cyber vulnerabilities in U.S. military weapons systems

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Pentagon has "routinely" found mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities in most systems under development from 2012-2017, and yet, U.S. military officials still often think the Pentagon's weapon systems are secure against cyberthreats, per a Government Accountability Office report issued Tuesday.

Why it matters: The report assesses that "[a]lthough GAO and others have warned of cyber risks for decades, until recently, DoD did not prioritize weapon systems cybersecurity." This is the first report the GAO is releasing on the cybersecurity of U.S. military weapon systems acquisitions.

The big picture: Part of the problem is the Defense Department has typically focused cybersecurity efforts on networks and IT systems, not weapons systems, per GAO. But the problem of weapons systems' cybersecurity is only going to burgeon since cyberthreats are getting more sophisticated and the Pentagon’s weapon systems are becoming software-dependent and networked more than ever before, per the report.

  • The acquisitions process is part of the problem. "DOD likely has an entire generation of systems that were designed and built without adequately considering cybersecurity," the authors of the report write.
  • Reality check: Not all systems were tested for the report, so the GAO assesses the cybersecurity vulnerabilities it's reporting on today are likely just a small sampling of the overall problem.

Top vulnerabilities included poor password management and unencrypted communications, per the report.

  • Threat level: Those checking into the Pentagon’s weapon systems found that even using simple tools they could overtake systems — and do so undetected.

Go deeper

O'Brien rejects intelligence report of Russia effort to re-elect Trump

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected on ABC's "This Week" an assessment from a congressional briefing led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected.

Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 cases in matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Iranian state TV: Hardliners win landslide victory in low-turnout election

Photo: Iranian Supreme Leader Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iranian state TV announced Sunday that hardliners won a landslide victory in the country's parliamentary elections two days ago, including all 30 seats in Tehran, AP reports.

Why it matters: Voter turnout in the election only reached 42.57%, according to Iran's interior ministry, the first time turnout dipped below 50% since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The low turnout may signal dissatisfaction with the Iranian government and the election system.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World