Britain’s Defense Ministry admits it’s been hacked

Britain’s head of cybersecurity Maj. Gen. Jonathan Shaw told the Guardian in an interview that the British Ministry of Defense has continued to beef up its network security and is looking for “wacky” ideas to stay one-step ahead of hackers.

"The number of serious incidents is quite small, but it is there," Shaw said. "And those are the ones we know about. The likelihood is there are problems in there we don't know about."

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Shaw’s concerns about attacks in the cyber realm are shared by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Panetta has repeatedly listed the potential for cyber-attacks as one of his biggest concerns in the future.

The Pentagon first admitted in 2010 that it was attacked in 2008 when a flash drive was inserted into a military laptop in the Middle East that contained malicious code. Last year, 24,000 Pentagon files were stolen in an attack by “foreign intruders.”

Rear Adm. Samuel Cox, who is the head of intelligence at U.S. Cyber Command, said in a speech last month that cyber-threats to U.S. allies are making Washington increasingly wary about transmitting sensitive and classified details to partner nations about U.S. cybersecurity efforts.

To fight back against hackers, Shaw said that Britain is turning to “kids on the street” to help the military.

“If we want to work the response, if we want to know really what is happening, we really have to listen to the young kids out in the street,” Shaw said. They are telling us what is happening out there.”

One place Shaw seeking out help is from firms like Facebook, he said, as one kind of the “wacky ideas” that he’s looking for. He told the Guardian that it was the sort of place where the military could “learn a trick or two.”