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Cyber Command chief suggests Pentagon networks are vulnerable

The head of US Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, suggested that the Pentagon is 'not where we need to be' in securing networks in Afghanistan against cyberattacks.

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Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the US Cyber Command, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday to testify before the House Armed Services Committee.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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In his first hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, new US Cyber Command head Gen. Keith Alexander offered a troubling window into the threats that Pentagon networks face at the hands of terrorist and criminal syndicates, foreign intelligence organizations, and “hacktivists” intent on infiltrating power grids and financial networks.

These are threats that could hamper the US war effort in Afghanistan. Though the command recently deployed an “expeditionary cybersupport” unit to help to defend US networks in Afghanistan, Alexander on Thursday told the committee: “We’re not where we need to be” in ensuring the security of US military networks there.

In the past, cyberattackers have been able to steal key information from the US troops who rely on sophisticated equipment, including data on convoy supply routes, according to senior US officials.

Every hour, there are some 250,000 attempted attacks on Defense Department networks worldwide, Alexander told the committee. Throughout the Department of Defense, there are more than 15,000 different computer networks, including 7 million computers on some 4,000 military installations, committee chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (D) of Missouri pointed out.

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