Under Cyberthreat: Defense Contractors

Under Cyberthreat: Defense Contractors
Under Cyberthreat: Defense Contractors

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July 6, 2009

Tim McKnight is well acquainted with threats to cybersecurity. A former 
special agent with the FBI, he specialized in corporate espionage and 
foreign counterintelligence. He's also handled information security for 
Cisco Systems (CSCO) and BAE Systems and has participated in a group 
called the Transglobal Secure Collaboration Program, whose mission is 
protecting intellectual property in the aerospace industry.

Those security chops are tested daily in McKnight's role as chief 
information security officer at Northrop Grumman (NOC). The defense 
industry faces "a near-existential threat from state-sponsored foreign 
intelligence services" that target sensitive IP, according to a report 
by the Internet Security Alliance, a nonprofit organization on whose 
board McKnight sits.

Northrop Grumman experienced the implications of that threat firsthand 
recently. According to a Frontline investigation that aired June 23, 
reporters were able to purchase an unencrypted hard drive of a Northrop 
Grumman employee in Ghana for $40. The drive reportedly contained 
hundreds of documents about government contracts.

"Detailed Asset-Disposal Procedure"

McKnight recently spoke with writer Rachael King. A 
Northrup Grumman PR representative wouldn't let McKnight address the 
issues raised by Frontline, instead issuing a statement that said: "We 
believe this hard drive may have been stolen after one of our 
asset-disposal vendors took possession of the unit. =E2=80=A6We have a detailed 
asset-disposal procedure in place. Despite sophisticated safeguards, no 
company can inoculate itself completely against crime. The fact that 
this information is outside our control is disconcerting." But McKnight 
was able to discuss other threats facing his industry. Edited excerpts 


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Attend Black Hat USA, July 25-30 in Las Vegas, 
the world's premier technical event for ICT security experts.
Network with 4,000+ delegates from 50 nations.  
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a relaxed setting. 

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