US Pentagon hit by huge cyber theft -

Updates to this story

The US Pentagon has admitted that it has suffered one of its largest losses ever of sensitive data in a cyber attack which can only have been carried out by a foreign government[China].

William Lynn, the deputy secretary of defence, told AP that 24,000 files containing Pentagon data were stolen from a defense industry computer network in a single intrusion in March.

He did not tell anyone what was taken but believed the attacker was a foreign government. He didn't say which nation [China] but said he had a pretty good idea which [Chinese] government did it.

In the past China or Russia have been identified as the main spies. However the Pentagon is a little more worried that its secrets might fall into the hands of a terrorist group, with less at stake than a foreign government.

A terror group is likely steal data and attack in ways that damage US defences. A foreign government plays by spying rules. Nation states are more likely to be spooked by US military power to carry out overtly destructive cyber attacks.

Fortunately Nation states are the only ones with the resources to try and take out Pentagon computer systems. But the Pentagon has been thinking about how to protect its computer system and those of its defence contractors.

AP said that under a new pilot program, the Pentagon is sharing classified threat intelligence with a handful of companies to help them identify and block malicious activity.

However it suggests that there are moves in Washington to place the Pentagon on a cyber attack footing. At the moment the split is 90 percent defence and 10 percent offence. Now the Pentagon wants to be offensive half the time.