The US Pentagon recently confirmed that a few months ago it had been hit by one of its largest losses of sensitive information ever. The experts admit that a cyber attack within which the theft occurred could have been carried out only by some foreign government, giving hints pointing to China.
A few days ago, William Lynn, the deputy secretary of defence, officially admitted that 24,000 files with sensitive Pentagon information leaked from a defence industry computer network. The digital theft occurred five months ago within a single intrusion, and it is unclear what took Pentagon that long to admit a breach. Mr. Lynn refused to tell anyone what exactly was stolen, but said he believed the intruder was a foreign government. Although he didn't specify directly which nation could do that, China would definitely sound as a pretty good idea of the government that was capable of doing so.
As you remember, in the past China and Russia were recognized as the major spies in the world. Nevertheless, the Pentagon is a bit more anxious that its secret data might fall into the hands of terrorists, with less at stake than some other government.
In the meantime, it is obvious that a terrorist group would likely steal information and attack in such ways that could damage American defences, while some foreign government would play by spying rules. In other words, nation states are more likely to be spooked by military power of the United States to carry out overtly destructive hacker attacks.
Hopefully, nation states are the only governments possessing enough resources to make an attempt of taking out computer systems of US Pentagon, which has been thinking about the way to properly secure its computer system and those of its defence contractors.
Media reports suggest that the Pentagon has developed a new pilot program, according to which it is sharing classified threat intelligence with many organizations in order to assist them in identifying and blocking malicious activity. But at the same time, the reports give a hint that there are some moves in Washington targeted at placing the Pentagon on a hacker attack footing. With the split being 90% defense and 10% offence, now the Pentagon is willing to be offensive about half the time. The Chinese government hasn’t commented the news so far.