New Pentagon weapons systems easily hacked: report

October 9, 2018
US Air Force F-22 Raptor: a government report says the Pentagon's weapons systems currently under development are highly vulnerable to hackers

New US weapons systems being developed by the US Department of Defense can be easily be hacked by adversaries, a new government report said on Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office said the Pentagon was unaware of how easy it could be for an adversary to gain access to the computer brains and software of the weapons systems and operate inside them undetected.

The weak points began with poor password management and unencrypted communications, it said.

But it said access points for the systems continued to grow in number and are not always well-understood by the operators themselves, leaving even non-networked systems deeply vulnerable.

More critically, the faulted the US military for not incorporating into the design and acquisition process for the computer-dependent weapons, and said weapons developers often did not themselves adequately understand cybersecurity issues.

"Due to this lack of focus on weapon systems cybersecurity, DOD likely has an entire generation of systems that were designed and built without adequately considering cybersecurity," the GAO said.

"In one case, it took a two-person test team just one hour to gain initial access to a and one day to gain full control of the system they were testing," it said.

In another case, it said, the test team gained control of the terminals of the system's operators.

"They could see, in real-time, what the operators were seeing on their screens and could manipulate the system."

The public, unclassified version of the report did not identify which arms systems it had tested and found faults with, citing the need for secrecy.

But it said that between 2012 and 2017, the Defense Department's own testers "routinely" found dangerous cyber vulnerabilities in "nearly all" under development.

"Using relatively simple tools and techniques, testers were able to take control of these systems and largely operate undetected. In some cases, system operators were unable to effectively respond to the hacks," it said.

The risk rises as Pentagon weapons and other systems are increasingly interconnected and their dependence on software and networking continues to rise.

The report came as the US wrestles with what it sees as concerted efforts by government-backed hackers in Russia and China to permeate government and private sector computer networks to steal data or simply wreak havoc.

Explore further: Why 50,000 ships are so vulnerable to cyberattacks

Related Stories

Why 50,000 ships are so vulnerable to cyberattacks

June 14, 2018

The 50,000 ships sailing the sea at any one time have joined an ever-expanding list of objects that can be hacked. Cybersecurity experts recently displayed how easy it was to break into a ship's navigational equipment. This ...

Recommended for you

Permanent, wireless self-charging system using NIR band

October 8, 2018

As wearable devices are emerging, there are numerous studies on wireless charging systems. Here, a KAIST research team has developed a permanent, wireless self-charging platform for low-power wearable electronics by converting ...

Facebook launches AI video-calling device 'Portal'

October 8, 2018

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant which is aiming for a slice of the smart speaker market that is currently dominated by Amazon and ...

Artificial enzymes convert solar energy into hydrogen gas

October 4, 2018

In a new scientific article, researchers at Uppsala University describe how, using a completely new method, they have synthesised an artificial enzyme that functions in the metabolism of living cells. These enzymes can utilize ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2018
the report faulted the US military for not incorporating cybersecurity into the design and acquisition process for the computer-dependent weapons

Seriously? 600bn$ a year and they go "Oh well, cybersecurity ain't important, let's spend the money on shiny uniforms"?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.