Networks The Pentagon Doesn’t Even Know It Has Could Get Hacked

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor

Data could be stolen from cloud-based digital networks the Department of Defense doesn’t even know it operates, according to the Pentagon’s chief internal watchdog.

Defense officials don’t know how many cloud computing service contracts they have or what data is carried on the networks involved with those contracts. Lack of such knowledge prevents DOD officials from accurately tallying cost savings or protecting information, the DOD inspector general said in a report released Wednesday.

“DOD did not maintain a comprehensive list of cloud computing service contracts,” the report said. “As a result, DoD cannot determine whether it achieves actual savings or benefits from adopting cloud computing services and may not effectively identify and monitor cloud computing security risks.”

DOD uses cloud computing in the civilian sector. It involves network-based digital storage space and other computer resources that are accessed on a subscription basis. Cost savings come from storing data remotely instead of on a computer hard-drive.

The lack of an accurate, up-to-date list of the contracts means DOD officials “will not be aware what security risks are specific to those services,” the report said.

The Pentagon lost track of the cloud contracts because its chief information officer “did not establish a standard, department-wide definition for cloud computing and did not develop an integrated repository that could provide detailed information to identify cloud computing service contracts.”

Instead, DOD relied on the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cloud computing definition. But each Pentagon component interpreted that definition differently, with a result that “DOD components do not consistently identify their use of cloud computing services.”

The Pentagon, for example, listed two potential Navy cloud contracts but Navy officials said they don’t have any such contracts operational.

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