DOD, DHS jointly respond to military contractor cyber attack

The Pentagon and the Homeland Security Department are aiding Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. on an investigation into a cyber attack that reportedly infiltrated the firm's security networks, federal officials said Saturday night.

"DoD is aware of a cyber incident impacting Lockheed Martin and, together with the Department of Homeland Security, is working with the company in determining the extent of the incident," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham said. "Impact to DoD is minimal and we don't expect any adverse effect."

In the past, the Defense' Cyber Crime Center has been responsible for heading probes into intrusions on .mil networks and systems in the defense industrial base, which includes Lockheed. Homeland Security has focused on helping civilian agencies and commercial companies assess cyber events, such as the recent Sony PlayStation network breach.

But, increasingly, the Pentagon and Homeland Security have been sharing cyber experts, tools and privacy officers, to respond to cyberattacks against government contractors, including one disclosed in March that hit security firm RSA. In that incident, perpetrators compromised a system containing information on RSA-manufactured "SecurID" digital credentials used by many federal employees and contractors.

According to Reuters, which first reported the Lockheed incident on Friday, unidentified hackers "breached [Lockheed] security systems designed to keep out intruders by creating duplicates to SecurID electronic keys," according to one person who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter. The offenders learned how to copy the security keys with data stolen during the RSA attack, the Reuters story said.

At the time, RSA Executive Chairman Art Coviello announced through a message on the company's website that the data stolen could potentially be used to weaken the security of SecurID devices "as part of a broader attack."

As a matter of policy, Homeland Security and military officials declined to comment on the operations underway to stem damage at Lockheed.

DHS and Defense officials have "been in contact with the company to offer assistance in determining the extent of the incident, performing analysis of available data in order to provide recommendations to mitigate further risk," Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said.

Lockheed officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.