Speaking at a presentation at the National Defense University on Thursday, William Lynn, the deputy secretary of defense, said that 24,000 files had been stolen from the Pentagon in a single intrusion that had been carried out by a foreign government, Politico reported
“It is a significant concern that over the past decade, terabytes of data have been extracted by foreign intruders from corporate networks of defense companies,” Lynn said. “Indeed, in a single intrusion this March, 24,000 files were taken.”
Cyber security has emerged as a major issue for the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Pentagon has sought to equate the threat to that of air, land and sea attacks. Cyber attacks against sensitive American technological infrastructure could then prompt a U.S. military response under DOD thinking.
The issue has also become a focal point for discussions between the U.S. and China, both of whom see the topic from a wide difference in perspectives, according to a Reuters report
"Unlike nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry, or trade wars, there are no existing international treaties that cover cyber-war, computer espionage or hacking," Diane Bartz and Paul Eckert reported for Reuters.
Cyber attacks are believe to have originated from China and Russia in the past, and there is growing concern among Pentagon officials that terrorists could also gain access to key data.
"If a terrorist group gains disruptive or destructive cybertools, we have to assume they will strike with little hesitation," Lynn said, according to International Business Times
. "Our infrastructure, logistics network and business systems are heavily computerized. With 15,000 networks and more than seven million computing devices, DoD continues to be a target in cyberspace for malicious activity."
The Pentagon released a cyber security plan on Thursday, with emphasis on defense versus military counter-strikes, the Washington Post reported