Contractors Are Giving Away America’s Military Edge: The Pentagon needs to hold suppliers responsible for security lapses (excerpt)
(Source: Bloomberg News Editorial Board; issued April 18, 2019)
In a connected world, no government or company can perfectly protect all its data from hackers and rival states. Even so, it’s astonishing that, from January 2016 to February 2018, nearly 6 percent of U.S. military and aerospace contractors reported data breaches.

And experts feel this is just the tip of the iceberg: The vast majority of security incidents are never uncovered. The Pentagon needs to tighten cybersecurity across its vast contracting operations and hold contractors responsible for breaches.

If policy makers can contemplate jailing executives who lie about safeguarding personal data, then similarly harsh measures should be considered for those who put our national security at risk.

To be sure, the contractor breaches have rarely been the kind of top-secret thefts that generate headlines. Most have involved so-called sensitive materials, sometimes the intellectual property of contracting companies. But even small leaks can give hostile nations a leg up on countering the Pentagon’s weapons of tomorrow.

The Defense Department has certainly tried to prevent such fiascos and get contractors to “deliver uncompromised.” The department has periodically tightened minimum security standards for its contractors, and it is considering upping them again. The contractors argue that voluntary improvements would work better.

But neither approach is likely to assure compliance across the board; the military-industrial base is simply too broad, with prime companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing assisted by numerous subcontractors. (end of excerpt)


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