Military acquisition rules hamper U.S. ability to counter cyber threats

COLORADO SPRINGS Colo. Tue May 20, 2014 9:05am IST

A U.S. Marine Sergeant works on a computer at ECPI University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, February 7, 2012. REUTERS/Samantha Sais/Files

A U.S. Marine Sergeant works on a computer at ECPI University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, February 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Samantha Sais/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   
Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers ride their camels as they rehearse for the "Beating the Retreat" ceremony in New Delhi January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

"Beating The Retreat" Rehearsals

Rehearsals are on for "Beating the Retreat" ceremony which symbolises retreat after a day on the battlefield, and marks the official end of the Republic Day celebrations.  Slideshow 

COLORADO SPRINGS Colo. (Reuters) - U.S. military experts on Monday said current acquisition rules hamper their ability to respond quickly to a growing number of cyber attacks against U.S. weapons and computer networks and new approaches are needed.

Kristina Harrington, director of the signals intelligence directorate at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), said acquisition programs typically take about two years to initiate and execute, but rapidly changing threats in the cyber domain require a different approach.

"The current acquisition process is not fast enough to keep up with the speed (of the threat)," Harrington said at a space and cyber conference hosted by the Space Foundation. "Two years after we started is too late in the cyber industry."

Harrington and other government and industry speakers underscored their concerns about growing and increasingly sophisticated attacks on U.S. computer networks and said the Pentagon was working hard to beef up cybersecurity.

Their comments came the same day that the U.S. government charged five Chinese military officers, accusing them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets, These are the first criminal hacking charges filed by Washington against specific foreign individuals.

Harrington told reporters after the panel that the NRO, which designs, builds and operates U.S. spy satellites for the U.S. military and intelligence communities, was looking at using umbrella contracts with a range of companies that would give it more flexibility to order specific work as threats arose.

She said the agency was historically focused on buying, fielding and operating the best satellites in the world, but the ground networks used to operate them needed more attention because they were increasingly complex and had become a growing target of cyber attacks.

She said she understood that lawmakers need to carefully oversee acquisition programs, but said rapid changes in the cyber world meant the government needed more flexibility to respond than the current acquisition system offered.

U.S. weapons programs are subject to many complex regulations and oversight processes aimed at addressing the cost overruns, schedule delays and other issues that have plagued defense acquisition programs for decades.

Harrington and other officials argue that the cyber domain is fundamentally different and requires different rules than those applied to fighter jets, warships and missiles.

"We need to be looking at a different way of doing things," Harrington said during her panel discussion, adding that private industry was increasingly driving change in the cyber realm.

William Marion, chief technology officer for Air Force Space Command, said the Pentagon had undertaken a comprehensive review of cybersecurity issues across the department and was beginning to make changes, but current acquisition rules and oversight still slowed its ability to respond.

Executives at smaller companies say the Pentagon's bureaucracy also makes it difficult for them to bid for cybersecurity contracts, which tend to be dominated by big firms like Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Matt Driskill)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Apple Earnings

Reuters Showcase

ONGC Share Sale

ONGC Share Sale

ONGC share sale scheduled for this fiscal - oil minister  Full Article 

The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/Files

Record Earnings

Apple iPhone sales trample expectations as profit sets global record  Full Article 

'Umrika' At Sundance

'Umrika' At Sundance

From Oscars to Sundance, Sharma and Revolori discuss India's 'Umrika'  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Smooth Wawrinka, ill Serena through to Melbourne semis   Full Article 

India's Male Tenor

India's Male Tenor

India's lone male tenor aims to sing opera in local key  Full Article 

Japan Hostages

Japan Hostages

Mother of Japanese captive begs PM to save son held by Islamic State  Full Article 

Tripoli Attack

Tripoli Attack

Frenchman, American among those killed in Tripoli hotel attack - Libyan official.  Full Article 

U.S. Blizzard

U.S. Blizzard

Blizzard hits Boston and New England, spares New York despite forecasts.  Full Article 

Spying Row

Spying Row

Spying program leaked by Snowden is tied to campaign in many countries.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage