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US military contractors hacked – possible link with RSA SecurID breach, reports claim

28
May
2011

F-22 Raptor jet fighterHackers have broken into the network of Lockheed Martin and several other US military contractors, according to media reports.

Blogger Robert Cringely claimed that Lockheed Martin first detected the security breach last Sunday. In response the firm promptly blocked all remote VPN access to their internal network, and informed over 100,000 users that they would have to change their passwords.

In addition, it’s said that all Lockheed personnel with RSA SecurID tokens will be given new tokens.

From the sound of things, Lockheed Martin took swift and sensible action. It was wise of them to take the step of shutting down access to its internal networks as a precaution, once it believed that unauthorised users may have breached its systems.

SecurID tokenThe mention of RSA SecurID tokens, though, is interesting. They’re the devices used by many companies and organisations to provide two factor authentication to allow provide workers with a more secure way of proving they are who they say they are than just providing a username and password.

You may have used something similar when accessing your online bank account – for instance, a keyfob that displays a sequence of numbers that changes every 30 seconds or so.

The reason why this raises eyebrows is that back in March, RSA admitted that it had been hacked, and some of the information stolen was specifically related to RSA’s SecurID two-factor authentication products.

However, RSA has never made public details of precisely what kind of data was stolen – leading to speculation that the security of the widely-used SecurID tokens might have been compromised.

Is it possible that whatever information was stolen from RSA helped the hackers break into Lockheed Martin? If that’s the case, that’s worrying news for businesses around the world.

An unnamed source with direct knowledge of the attacks is said to have confirmed to Reuters that other military contractors have also been compromised.

It’s important to realise that all of these companies are victims of a criminal act – the authorities will no doubt be keen to uncover who is behind these attacks, and where they might have originated from. Only time will tell if those questions are ever answered satisfactorily.

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