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Posts Tagged ‘development

U.S. arms makers said to be bleeding secrets to cyber foes

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Top Pentagon contractors have been bleeding secrets for years as a result of penetrations of their computer networks, current and former national security officials say.

The Defense Department, which runs its own worldwide eavesdropping, spying and code-cracking systems, says more than 100 foreign intelligence organizations have been trying to break into U.S. networks.

Some of the perpetrators “already have the capacity to disrupt” U.S. information infrastructure, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who is leading remedial efforts, wrote last fall in the journal Foreign Affairs.

Joel Brenner, the National Counterintelligence executive from 2006 to 2009, said most if not all of the big defense contractors’ networks had been pierced.

“This has been happening since the late ’90s,” he told Reuters Tuesday. He identified the main threats as coming from Russia, China and Iran.

“They’re after our weapons systems and R&D,” or research and development, said Brenner, now with the law firm of Cooley LLP in Washington.

Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier by sales, said on Saturday that it had thwarted “a significant and tenacious” attack on its information systems network that it detected May 21. Ten days later, the company says its still working to restore full employee access to the network while maintaining the highest level of security.

Lockheed, which is also the government’s top information technology provider, said it had become “a frequent target of adversaries from around the world.” A spokeswoman said it said it used the term “adversaries” only in a general sense.

Lockheed builds F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighter jets as well as Aegis naval combat system, THAAD missile defense and other big-ticket weapons systems sold to U.S. allies. It has not disclosed which of its business units was targeted.

Cyber intruders were reported in 2009 to have broken into computers holding data on Lockheed’s projected $380 billion-plus F-35 fighter program, the Pentagon’s costliest arms purchase.

Other big Pentagon contractors include Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp, BAE Systems Plc and Raytheon Co. Each of these declined to comment on whether it believed its networks had been penetrated.

James Miller, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said last May that the United States was losing terabytes of data in cyber attacks, enough to fill “multiple Libraries of Congress.” The world’s largest library, its archive totaled about 235 terabytes of data as of April, the Library of Congress says on its web site.

“The scale of compromise, including the loss of sensitive and unclassified data, is staggering,” Miller told a Washington forum.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who led a Senate Intelligence Committee cyber task force last year, said in March that cybercrime has put the United States “on the losing end of what could be the largest illicit transfer of wealth in world history.”

Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, a former director of central intelligence and ex-head of the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, said no network was safe if it had Internet access.

“You can isolate a network, a classified network,” he told Reuters in an interview last year. “Maybe you can get a certain level of confidence that you are not penetrated. But if you are out there connected to the world wide web you are vulnerable all the time.”

Anup Ghosh, a former senior scientist at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, said there had been a string of intrusions into networks of U.S. defense contractors, security companies and U.S. government labs, including the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, since the start of this year.

The advantage is with the intruders, said Ghosh, who worked on securing military networks for DARPA from 2002 to 2006 and now heads Invincea, a software security company.

“We’ve failed to innovate in the area of information security,” he said in an email Tuesday. “We’re fighting today’s battles with the equivalent of cold-war era defenses.”


Via NewsDaily

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Supercomputer diagnoses & treats diseases

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IBM’s Watson computer system, best known for defeating the world’s best Jeopardy! players, is now delivering rapid-fire answers to questions about diseases and medicines.

The company says it could be suggesting diagnoses and treatments to doctors right at a patient’s bedside in the next couple of years.

A recent demonstration showed how Watson’s diagnoses evolved as the computer was given more information about a patient, including where the patient lived.

A career in medicine: 'Watson', IBM's supercomputer, is not devouring information from medical history and text books in a bid to know everything

A career in medicine: ‘Watson’, IBM’s supercomputer, is not devouring information from medical history and text books in a bid to know everything

Beaten: Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek with contestants Ken Jennings, Watson's 'avatar' and Brad Rutter - before Watson went on to wipe the floor with them

Beaten: Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek with contestants Ken Jennings, Watson’s ‘avatar’ and Brad Rutter – before Watson went on to wipe the floor with them

When told a patient was pregnant, for example, it altered its treatment suggestion.

Watson is being fed a diet of medical textbooks and journals and taking training questions in plain language from medical students.

A doctor who is helping IBM says its database might soon include entries from blogs.

The imposing Watson first made headlines when it comprehensively beat Jeopardy! champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.

Medical diagnoses: IBM says Watson will soon be able to help doctors diagnose and treat individual patients, by swiftly analysing personal data

Medical diagnoses: IBM says Watson will soon be able to help doctors diagnose and treat individual patients, by swiftly analysing personal data

Named after IBM’s former president Thomas Watson, the computer’s secret to succes is its ability to understand language and solve problems through complex algorithms.

It makes it even more evolved than Deep Blue, an IBM chess-playing supercomputer that beat world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

The mastermind is actually housed in two units. Each unit contains five racks and each rack has 10 IBM Power 750 servers.

Namesake: Pioneering IBM founder Tom Watson pictured in 1966. The supercomputer is named after him

Namesake: Pioneering IBM founder Tom Watson pictured in 1966 with an early computing machine. The supercomputer is named after him.

When all are linked up they are the equivalent to 2,800 powerful computers with a memory of 15trillion bytes.

Watson is a pretty noisy contraption, but most of the noise comes from two large refrigerated units used to cool the machine down.

IBM researchers have been developing Watson for almost four years.

The company spends around $6billion a year on research and development. An unspecified part of that goes to what it calls ‘grand challenges’, or big, multi-year science projects such as Watson and Deep Blue.

IBM is attempting to create computers that can mimic the human ability to comprehend and answer natural language questions.

Via DailyMail