Pentagon’s New Next-Gen Weapons Systems Are Laughably Easy To Hack

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: New computerized weapons systems currently under development by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) can be easily hacked, according to a new report published today. The report was put together by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an agency that provides auditing, evaluation, and investigative services for Congress. The report detailed some of the most eye-catching hacks GAO testers performed during their analysis: “In one case, it took a two-person test team just one hour to gain initial access to a weapon system and one day to gain full control of the system they were testing. Some programs fared better than others. For example, one assessment found that the weapon system satisfactorily prevented unauthorized access by remote users, but not insiders and near-siders. Once they gained initial access, test teams were often able to move throughout a system, escalating their privileges until they had taken full or partial control of a system. In one case, the test team took control of the operators’ terminals. They could see, in real-time, what the operators were seeing on their screens and could manipulate the system. They were able to disrupt the system and observe how the operators responded. Another test team reported that they caused a pop-up message to appear on users’ terminals instructing them to insert two quarters to continue operating. Multiple test teams reported that they were able to copy, change, or delete system data including one team that downloaded 100 gigabytes, approximately 142 compact discs, of data.”

The report claims the DOD documented many of these “mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities,” but Pentagon officials who met with GAO testers claimed their systems were secure, and “discounted some test results as unrealistic.” GAO said all tests were performed on computerized weapons systems that are still under development. GAO officials highlighted that hackers can’t yet take control over current weapons systems and turn them against the U.S. But if these new weapons systems go live, the threat is more than real, GAO said.