23:33 GMT06 August 2020
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    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that Russian hackers were able to penetrate US military networks earlier this year during a cyberattack that has never been publicly reported.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Russian hackers were able to penetrate US military networks earlier this year during a cyberattack that has never been publicly reported, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced during a speech at Stanford University on Thursday.

    “Early this year the sensors that guard DoD [US Department of Defense] unclassified networks detected Russian hackers accessing one of our networks,” Carter said.

    The attack was never publicly revealed until Thursday, Carter noted, because the ability of the cyber attackers to gain unauthorized access to US defense systems had troubled Pentagon leaders.

    Carter explained that the hackers had discovered an old vulnerability in one of the Defense Department’s legacy systems that had been inadequately patched years ago.

    The US cyber defense teams were able to quickly identify the compromise and kick the cyber intruders off the network within 24 hours.

    “It shows how rapidly DoD can detect, attribute and expel an intruder from our military networks,” Carter added.

    Carter noted he is worried about potential breaches the United States does not know about.

    The US military will not rely on defense and deterrence alone, and is willing to launch offensive cyberattacks against US enemies, Carter warned.

    “Adversaries should know that our preference for deterrence and our defensive posture don’t diminish our willingness to use cyber options if necessary,” he said.

    Carter also unveiled the new US cyber strategy that will focus on partnering with the private sector on innovation initiatives, such as developing microchip technology as an alternative to relying on Global Positioning System satellites.

    In February 2015, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea represent major threats to US cybersecurity.

    Criminal activity online is broadly estimated to cost the United States $100 billion annually, more than any other country, according to a report released in 2014 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


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