Personal Devices Pose Challenge for Defense Department Security

By Insinna, Valerie | National Defense, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Personal Devices Pose Challenge for Defense Department Security


Insinna, Valerie, National Defense


* The proliferation of smartphones has caused a dramatic shift in how hackers target the Defense Department and its industrial base, cybersecurity company officials said.

Instead of going after an organization's infrastructure, such as servers and firewalls, hackers are infiltrating employees' personal smartphones and laptops, which usually aren't as hardened.

"It's so much easier for the Chinese to hack the CEO of Lockheed [Martin] or the development group of Boeing's engineers' personal devices" than to hack the companies' networks, said Mike Janke, chief executive officer and co-founder of Silent Circle, a National Harbor, Md.-based company that offers a suite of encryption technologies.

Even without Defense Department permission, uniformed and civilian personnel have been using their personal devices during deployments to communicate with family members or conduct business, Janke said. As the Pentagon considers employing a "bring your own device" strategy, hackers increasingly may view smartphones as easy targets.

Hackers could put malicious code on smartphone applications that target service members, said Michael Markulec of Lameta Corp., a Somerset, N.J.-based developer of network detection software.

"So now the soldier takes that phone ... and then uses that app on a WiFi network inside of the military network," he said. "They launch that app, that piece of malware is then introduced into the network, and you have a potential problem."

Lurneta currently is rolling out software that would allow all of the Defense Department's networks to track what devices are connected to it, but there are other methods the department might use to secure personal devices themselves, Markulec said. …

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