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A report from the US Government Accountability Office paints a grim picture of American military security – or the lack thereof. A host of American weapons can easily be hacked, either due to tech issues or human incompetence.
The GAO report draws on 30 years of Department of Defense data and interviews with dozens of military officials to reveal a broad range of cybersecurity flaws in the world’s most high-tech military apparatus. Security holes were found both in aging systems and systems still under development, suggesting the problem is systemic.
The vulnerabilities are surprisingly low-tech for a country that spends more than half of every tax dollar on the military. Many security flaws involved weak passwords and unencrypted network traffic. Others suggested a poor understanding of network security by military technicians.
Test teams were able to guess one administrator’s password in nine seconds, while some weapons systems used the default passwords that came with the commercial software that ran the systems. Testers were able to download and delete classified data, take over operators’ screens, and track operators’ activity without alerting them.