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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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Russia may take action over U.S. missile shield

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Russia says it may take action if Washington and Moscow fail to agree on a joint missile shield

Russia’s deputy defense minister has said action could be taken if the United States deploys its new missile defense system near Russia’s borders.

In a news conference on Friday, deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov said the Russian military was looking at ways to “protect our nation if Russia is not consulted in talks with NATO.”

“There is not only talk, some serious work is also being done,” Antonov said. “The Defense Ministry should allow for the worst possible scenario.”

His comments come just hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Kazakhstan that the talks were going through a complicated phase.

“So far this matter is proceeding with difficulty, but the [U.S.] Secretary of State [Hillary Clinton] has assured us that measures are being taken on her side,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov added that he had met Clinton during an Arctic Council meeting in Greenland on Thursday and had discussed missile defense.

“We agreed that it was necessary to give a political impulse to the work of experts, so that before our two presidents meet in Deauville for the G8 summit it will be possible to set out some results,” Lavrov said.

The United States and Romania announced last week a deal to deploy missile interceptors in Romania as part of its plan to erect a missile shield over Europe.

The move immediately drew criticism from Russia, which fears the scheme may compromise its security by weakening its nuclear missile arsenal.

But U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher said Moscow need not worry.

“We have good relations with Russia. We have just ratified the New START treaty, we are working together on various other issues,” she was quoted as saying in media reports last week.

“It is a system that will defend NATO and, if Russia chooses to work with us in a cooperative manner, the system will defend Russia, too.”

Russia agreed to cooperate on NATO’s European missile defense program at a NATO summit in Lisbon last year.


Russia ‘disappointed’ by U.S. failure to provide missile guarantees

Moscow is concerned by the United States’ refusal to provide legally binding guarantees that its European missile defense system will not be directed against Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday.

“The Americans are insisting on the importance of launching practical cooperation without any preconditions,” he said, adding that Russia “cannot start cooperation on specific projects without legal guarantees that a future system will not be directed against our security interests.”

Moscow reserves the right to pull out of the new START Treaty, he warned.

“The new START Treaty may become hostage to the U.S. approach,” the official said.

“The qualitative and quantitative buildup of the U.S. missile defense system, which will jeopardize Russia’s strategic nuclear capability, can be regarded as an exceptional event under Article 14 of the said Treaty whereby Russia has the right to withdraw from this agreement,” Ryabkov said.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile shield during the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system.

Russia is opposed to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defense systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.

Via Rian & Russia

Bin Laden dead before U.S. raid – Iranian Intelligence Minister

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Osama bin Laden

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said Tehran has evidence that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had died of disease long before the United States’ alleged raid on the terrorist, FARS Iranian news agency said.

Bin Laden was killed on May 2 in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, north of the capital Islamabad, during a raid by U.S. Navy Seals.

“We have accurate information that bin Laden died of illness some time ago,” Moslehi said.

Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea less than 24 hours after the operation.

“If the US military and intelligence apparatus have really arrested or killed bin Laden, why don’t they show him (his dead body) why have they thrown his corpse into the sea?” Moslehi continued.

A DNA test proved that the corpse of the dead man belonged to bin Laden, who has topped the FBI’s most wanted list for the past decade.

White House spokesman, Jay Carney said on Wednesday that Washington would not release bin Laden’s postmortem photos to avoid instigating propaganda and possible violence.

Via Rian

North Korea, Iran trade missile technology

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North Korea and Iran appear to have been regularly exchanging ballistic missile technology in violation of U.N. sanctions, according to a confidential United Nations report obtained by Reuters on Saturday.

The report said that the illicit technology transfers had “trans-shipment through a neighboring third country.” That country was China, several diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The report was submitted to the U.N. Security Council by a U.N. Panel of Experts, a group that monitors compliance with U.N. sanctions imposed on Pyongyang after it conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

The U.N. sanctions included a ban on trade in nuclear and missile technology with North Korea, as well as an arms embargo. They also banned trade with a number of North Korean firms and called for asset freezes and travel bans on some North Korean individuals.

“Prohibited ballistic missile-related items are suspected to have been transferred between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Islamic Republic of Iran on regular scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air,” the report said.

“For the shipment of cargo, like arms and related materiel, whose illicit nature would become apparent on any cursory physical inspection, (North) Korea seems to prefer chartered cargo flights,” it said.

It added that the aircraft tended to fly “from or to air cargo hubs which lack the kind of monitoring and security to which passenger terminals and flights are now subject.”

Several Security Council diplomats said that China was unhappy about the report.

Beijing has prevented the publication of expert panel reports on North Korea and Sudan in the past. Earlier this week, Russia took similar steps to suppress an equally damning expert panel report on Iran.

The report said the possibility of exports of weapons-grade nuclear material from North Korea or nuclear technology to other countries remains a concern and presents “new challenges to international non-proliferation efforts.”

U.S., Israeli and European governments have said that North Korea was helping Syria build a nuclear reactor that Israel destroyed in 2007.

In its report, the panel said that North Korea’s uranium enrichment problem, which Pyongyang says is for civilian purposes, is “primarily for military purposes.”

It added that North Korea “should be compelled to abandon its uranium enrichment programme and that all aspects of the programme should be placed under international monitoring.”

The report also said there were concerns about safety at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex. It said “safety issues should be discussed an integral part of the denuclearization of (North Korea).”

It added that “reckless decommissioning or dismantlement at Yongbyon could cause an environmental disaster.”

Iran to try U.S. hikers on Wednesday, U.S. says

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American hikers Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal attend the first session of their trial at the revolutionary court in Tehran in this February 6, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/PRESS TV

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 (Reuters) – Two Americans held in Iran on spying charges for nearly two years will go on trial on Wednesday, the State Department said on Tuesday, calling on Tehran to quickly resolve the case.

“We urge Iran to resolve this case as soon as possible. Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have been in prison for almost two years, and it’s time to reunite them with their families,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

Fattal, Bauer, and American Sarah Shourd were arrested by Iranian forces on July 31, 2009, on suspicion of spying after crossing into Iran from Iraq.

Shourd, who was released on bail in September and returned home, has said they were innocent hikers and never intended to cross into Iran.

“We understand from our Swiss protecting power that Iranian authorities have confirmed May 11th as the new trial date,” Toner said. Switzerland looks after U.S. interests in Iran because the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations.

Iran delayed an earlier hearing that had been scheduled to start in November 2010.

“We, obviously, urge Iran to permit Josh and Shane unfettered access to legal counsel and immediate consular access by the Swiss protecting power,” Toner said.

Swiss intermediaries last visited the detained Americans in late October, he said.

In Tehran, a lawyer for the three Americans said on Monday it was unlikely that Shourd would return for the hearing.

Under Iran’s Islamic law, espionage can be punished by execution.

The case has further complicated relations between Iran and the United States, which are strained over Iran nuclear program. The United States accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Copyright Reuters

Via NewsDaily

Written by Nokgiir

May 11, 2011 at 6:17 am