News

Military rules hamper U.S. efforts to fight cyber crime

Military rules hamper U.S. efforts to fight cyber crime

CYBER THREATS:U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (2nd L) announces the indictments of five Chinese nationals on cyber espionage charges for allegedly stealing trade secrets from American companies, during a news conference. Photo: Reuters

By Andrea Shalal

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) – U.S. military experts on Monday said current acquisition rules hamper their ability to respond quickly to a growing number of cyber attacks against U.S. weapons and computer networks and new approaches are needed.

Kristina Harrington, director of the signals intelligence directorate at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), said acquisition programs typically take about two years to initiate and execute, but rapidly changing threats in the cyber domain require a different approach.

“The current acquisition process is not fast enough to keep up with the speed (of the threat),” Harrington said at a space and cyber conference hosted by the Space Foundation. “Two years after we started is too late in the cyber industry.”

Harrington and other government and industry speakers underscored their concerns about growing and increasingly sophisticated attacks on U.S. computer networks and said the Pentagon was working hard to beef up cybersecurity.

Their comments came the same day that the U.S. government charged five Chinese military officers, accusing them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets, These are the first criminal hacking charges filed by Washington against specific foreign individuals.

Harrington told reporters after the panel that the NRO, which designs, builds and operates U.S. spy satellites for the U.S. military and intelligence communities, was looking at using umbrella contracts with a range of companies that would give it more flexibility to order specific work as threats arose.

She said the agency was historically focused on buying, fielding and operating the best satellites in the world, but the ground networks used to operate them needed more attention because they were increasingly complex and had become a growing target of cyber attacks.

She said she understood that lawmakers need to carefully oversee acquisition programs, but said rapid changes in the cyber world meant the government needed more flexibility to respond than the current acquisition system offered.

U.S. weapons programs are subject to many complex regulations and oversight processes aimed at addressing the cost

overruns, schedule delays and other issues that have plagued defense acquisition programs for decades.

Harrington and other officials argue that the cyber domain is fundamentally different and requires different rules than those applied to fighter jets, warships and missiles.

“We need to be looking at a different way of doing things,” Harrington said during her panel discussion, adding that private industry was increasingly driving change in the cyber realm.

William Marion, chief technology officer for Air Force Space Command, said the Pentagon had undertaken a comprehensive review of cybersecurity issues across the department and was beginning to make changes, but current acquisition rules and oversight still slowed its ability to respond.

Executives at smaller companies say the Pentagon’s bureaucracy also makes it difficult for them to bid for cybersecurity contracts, which tend to be dominated by big firms like Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Matt Driskill)

Recent Headlines

in Music

Ozzy Osbourne to undergo surgery

British musicians Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath, arrives at the Classic Rock Roll of Honour awards 2013 at the Camden Roundhouse in north London, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013.

Ozzy Osbourne has cancelled his upcoming Ozzfiesta event in Mexico to undergo surgery.

in Entertainment

Angelina Jolie crowned world’s top feminist icon

Angelina Jolie arrives at the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Los Angeles.

Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson top the list of the world's foremost feminist icons.

in Entertainment, National

Celebrities protest new Indiana law

George Takei poses for a portrait at Quaker Good Energy Lodge with GenArt and the Collective , during the Sundance Film Festival, on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah.

Celebrities call for an Indiana boycott after the passing of a controversial law that could lead to discrimination against gay couples.

in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘It Follows’ is the best American horror film in a decade

In this image released by Brigade Marketing, actress Maika Monroe appears in a scene of It Follows, directed by David Robert Mitchell. “It Follows,” has been arguably the buzziest American film at Cannes next to Bennett Miller’s wrestling drama “Foxcatcher,” which boasts a far more famous cast and a major premiere at the Palais des Festival.

"It Follows" is a horror movie worthy of classic comparisons.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Billy Zane mistakenly thanks One Direction fans for support

Billy Zane arrives at the Global Green USA's 12th Annual Pre-Oscar Party at the Avalon Hollywood on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, in Los Angeles.

Actor Billy Zane pokes fun at the fact he shares a similar name to former One Direction member Zayn Malik in a new video.