By AUGUST COLE and SIOBHAN GORMAN
The Wall Street Journal
MARCH 18, 2009
WASHINGTON -- The biggest U.S. military contractors are counting on
winning billions of dollars in work to protect the federal government
against electronic attacks.
U.S. agencies from the Pentagon to the Department of Homeland Security
have experienced major cyber-break-ins in recent years, even into
classified systems. Cyberspies also have siphoned off critical data from
Pentagon contractors, including one breach that cost a major aerospace
contractor $15 million.
Intelligence officials estimate annual U.S. losses from cyber breaches
to be in the billions of dollars, and some worry that cyber attackers
could take control of a nuclear power plant or subway line via the
Internet -- or wipe out the data of a major financial institution.
Anticipating the demand, defense companies are bolstering training,
buying smaller firms and hiring former top government officials. The
move into the cyber-security field could offer new revenue streams for
the contractors and help offset declines stemming from budget pressures
on the Defense Department's traditional weapons systems.
Last year the Bush administration launched a major cyber-security
initiative, and 2009 spending is expected to reach $6 billion. Details
are classified, but depending on the outcome of a 60-day White House
review due next month, people familiar with the effort say spending
could range from $15 billion to $30 billion in the next five years.
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