Pentagon weapons guide adds cybersecurity

Pentagon weapons guide adds cybersecurity
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Cybersecurity is now a core consideration for all weapons purchases at the Defense Department.

The Pentagon released its new buying guide, Better Buying Power 3.0, late Thursday. For the first time, it discusses cybersecurity.

“Cybersecurity is a pervasive problem for the department,” said acquisition chief Frank Kendall during a press conference. “It's a pervasive problem in the sense that it affects and is a danger, if you will, a source of risk for our programs from inception all the way through retirement.”

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Pressure has been building on the Pentagon to address cyber vulnerabilities in its weapons system.

In 2007, Chinese hackers were able to crack the networks at defense contractor Lockheed Martin and lift design data about the F-35 fighter jet. The Asian power used the information to build its own stealth fighter.

A 2013 confidential report prepared for the Pentagon listed more than two dozen weapons systems whose designs were breached. Those weapons ranged from missile systems across Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf to combat aircraft like the Black Hawk helicopter and close-range patrol ships.

In a memo associated with the new buying guide, Kendall conceded that “the technological superiority of the United States is now being challenged by potential adversaries in ways not seen since the Cold War.”

Lawmakers have also raised the issue in a number of hearings on Capitol Hill this year.

“We're losing a lot of time advantage and a lot of financial advantage by having this data be extracted from us,” Kendall acknowledged in his press conference remarks. “We need to think about every interface that a weapons system has, and whether it's accessible through cyber methods or not.”

The new purchasing guideline emphasizes a cyber focus at every stage of acquisition.

“Everything associated with the product is a potential point of attack,” Kendall said. “And we are under attack in the cyber world, and we've got to do a better job protecting our things.”