The UK’s military’s head of cyber security warned that hackers have breached computer systems containing top secret data, The Guardian reported.
Major General Jonathan Shaw told the paper that the number of known breaches to top secret systems was small, but that attacks were “hard to quantify” and that “the likelihood is there are problems in there we don’t know about.”
Shaw spoke with the UK paper about the results of an internal audit of cyber security within the Ministry of Defense that he headed. It was the first public admission by the Ministry of Defence that its own classified systems had been breached. Shaw said the admission should be a wake up call for the UK military and the UK government that it needs to boost public investment in cyber security and embrace a new generation of leaders.
“This thing is moving too fast. The only people who spot what is happening are people at the coal face and that is the young kids. We have to listen to them and they have to talk to us,” he told the Guardian.
Shaw’s interview comes the same week as the government’s leading cyber law enforcement agency, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) was forced to take its Web page offline to step out from under punishing denial of service (DoS) attacks. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, they are believed to be in retaliation for a recent SOCA-FBI crack down on cyber criminal Web sites selling stolen credit card data.
The UK isn’t the only Western government to come forward and admit that its most sensitive systems have been compromised by hackers. In 2010, then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn disclosed in an interview with the magazine Foreign Affairs that the U.S. Military’s SIPRnet classified network was breached in a 2008 attack launched from an infected flash drive on a network run by U.S. Central Command.
Subsequent reports from the U.S. Department of Defense have painted a picture of a broad campaign of cyber espionage directed against U.S. government agencies, the military and private defense contractors. A 2010 report from the Defense Security Services (DSS) concluded that Internet based spying and targeted attacks from what the report refers to as “entities” from “East Asia and the Pacific region” continued to be a major problem for the U.S. military and military contractors.