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CybersecurityU.S. military bases vulnerable to cyberattacks on their power, utility systems

Published 30 July 2015

U.S. military bases are at risk for cyberattacks against the bases’ power grid and other utility systems, according to a new report on defense infrastructure from the Government Accounting Office. The 72-page GAO document concludes military bases “may be vulnerable to cyber incidents that could degrade operations and negatively impact missions.”

U.S. military bases are at risk for cyberattacks against the bases’ power grid and other utility systems, according to a new report on defense infrastructure from the Government Accounting Office.

The 72-page GAO document concludes military bases “may be vulnerable to cyber incidents that could degrade operations and negatively impact missions.”

Retired Navy Captain Joe Bouchard told ABC 13 News that the report’s findings do not come as a surprise to him. “DoD is aware of it and they’re trying to correct it, but until it is corrected he vulnerability exists and it’s serious,” he said.

Bouchard served as commanding officer of Naval Station Norfolk, and deputy senior director of the National Security Council. He says the military has been aware for more than a decade of the vulnerability of the military’s industrial control systems.

Eventually the problem will be corrected,” he said. “The problem is, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity in the meantime for a sophisticated cyberattack to cause many serious problems for the grid that could negatively impact military bases and that is a very serious national security problem.”

The commander of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic and Naval Facilities Engineering Command issued the following statement to WVEC-TV: “The Navy is aware of the potential for cyber security threats to utility infrastructures and has protections in place to secure our valuable assets. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, we are unable provide details on what measures we’ve taken to protect those assets. However, we can assure you that the Navy views infrastructure protection as a priority.”

The White House has posted this statement on its Web page: “The Pentagon’s new cyber strategy, being implemented now, focuses on building the capabilities necessary to defend the nation from cyber-attacks of significant consequence, defend DoD networks, data, and systems; and provide cyber support to military operations and plans.”

— Read more in Defense Infrastructure: Improvements in DOD Reporting and Cybersecurity Implementation Needed to Enhance Utility Resilience Planning, GAO-15-749 (GAO, 23 July 2015)