GAO Says DoD Needs Better Security Policies

The Department of Defense needs better security policies, training and technology to defeat hacker attacks on its 2.1 million computers, according to a new report by the General Accounting Office.


The DoD was hit by roughly 250,000 hacker attacks in 1994, underlining the growing scope and danger posed by unidentified hackers trying to seize control of the department's critical logistics, research, accounting and war-related networks, said the GAO report, "Information Security: Computer Attacks at Department of Defense Pose Increasing Risks."

"The potential for catastrophe is great," said the report, released May 22. DoD officials say they are drawing up research programs and policy changes to defeat hacker attacks.

The Pentagon is developing a variety of computer-security technologies, including devices to identify computer users, to reveal attempted hacker penetrations and to determine the location of a hacker's computer. But "the success of these measures depends on whether Defense implements them in tandem with better policy and personnel solutions," said the report.

Currently, the Pentagon "has no uniform policy for assessing, protecting its systems, responding to incidents or assessing damage," said the report. The report also outlined several hacker attacks against Pentagon installations, including the Naval War College in Rhode Island and the Air Force's Rome Laboratory in New York.


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