Information Security: Computer Attacks at Department of Defense Pose
Increasing Risks (Chapter Report, 05/22/96, GAO/AIMD-96-84).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the extent to which
Department of Defense (DOD) computer systems are attacked, focusing on
the: (1) potential for further damage to DOD computer systems; and (2)
challenges DOD faces in securing sensitive information on its computer
systems.

GAO found that: (1) DOD relies on a complex information infrastructure
to design weapons, identify and track enemy targets, pay soldiers,
mobilize reservists, and manage supplies; (2) use of the Internet to
enhance communication and information sharing has increased DOD exposure
to attack, since the Internet provides unauthorized users a means to
access DOD systems; (3) while the DOD information available on the
Internet is unclassified, it is sensitive and must be restricted; (4)
only about 1 in 500 attacks is detected and reported, but the Defense
Information Systems Agency (DISA) estimates that DOD is attacked about
250,000 times per year; (5) attackers have stolen, modified, and
destroyed data and software, disabled protection systems to allow future
unauthorized access, and shut down entire systems and networks to
preclude authorized use; (6) security breaches pose a serious risk to
national security because terrorists or U.S. adversaries could disrupt
the national information infrastructure; (7) security breaches cost DOD
hundreds of millions of dollars annually; and (8) DOD needs to increase
the resources devoted to computer security, update the policies that
govern computer security, and increase security training for system and
network administrators.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  AIMD-96-84
     TITLE:  Information Security: Computer Attacks at Department of 
             Defense Pose Increasing Risks
      DATE:  05/22/96
   SUBJECT:  Computer networks
             Computer crimes
             Computer security
             Computer viruses
             Confidential records
             Terrorism
             Defense communications operations
             Hackers
IDENTIFIER:  Internet
             DISA Vulnerability Analysis and Assessment Program
             DISA Defense Information Warfare Management Plan
             Air Force Automated Security Incident Measurement Project
             DOD Defense Message System
             Army Automated Intrusion Monitoring System
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Requesters

May 1996

INFORMATION SECURITY - COMPUTER
ATTACKS AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
POSE INCREASING RISKS

GAO/AIMD-96-84

Defense Information Security

(511336)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  AFIWC - Air Force Information Warfare Center
  AIMS - Automated Intrusion Monitoring System
  ASIM - Automated Security Incident Measurement
  ASSIST - Automated Systems Security Incident Support Team
  DISA - Defense Information Systems Agency
  FIWC - Fleet Information Warfare Center
  GAO - General Accounting Office
  LIWA - Land Information Warfare Activity
  NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  NIST - National Institute of Standards and Technology
  NSA - National Security Agency
  SATAN - Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-266140

May 22, 1996

The Honorable John Glenn
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Sam Nunn
Ranking Minority Member
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable William H.  Zeliff, Jr.
Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security,
 International Affairs and Criminal Justice
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
House of Representatives

In view of the increasing threat of unauthorized intrusions into
Department of Defense computer systems, you asked us to report on the
extent to which Defense computer systems are being attacked, the
actual and potential damage to its information and systems, and the
challenges Defense is facing in securing sensitive information.  This
report identifies opportunities and makes recommendations to the
Secretary of Defense to improve Defense's efforts to counter attacks
on its computer systems. 

We are sending copies of the report to the Senate Committee on Armed
Services and the House Committee on National Security; the Senate
Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense, and the House
Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on National Security; the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence; the Secretary of Defense; the
secretaries of the military services; and the Director, Defense
Information Systems Agency.  Copies will also be made available to
others upon request. 

If you have any questions about this report, please call me at (202)
512-6240.  Other major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix I. 

Jack L.  Brock, Jr.
Director, Defense Information and
 Financial Management Systems


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
============================================================ Chapter 0


   PURPOSE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

Unknown and unauthorized individuals are increasingly attacking and
gaining access to highly sensitive unclassified information on the
Department of Defense's computer systems.  Given the threats the
attacks pose to military operations and national security, GAO was
asked to report on the extent to which Defense systems are being
attacked, the potential for further damage to information and
systems, and the challenges Defense faces in securing sensitive
information. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

Attacks on Defense computer systems are a serious and growing threat. 
The exact number of attacks cannot be readily determined because only
a small portion are actually detected and reported.  However, Defense
Information Systems Agency (DISA) data implies that Defense may have
experienced as many as 250,000 attacks last year.  DISA information
also shows that attacks are successful 65 percent of the time, and
that the number of attacks is doubling each year, as Internet use
increases along with the sophistication of "hackers"\1 and their
tools. 

At a minimum, these attacks are a multimillion dollar nuisance to
Defense.  At worst, they are a serious threat to national security. 
Attackers have seized control of entire Defense systems, many of
which support critical functions, such as weapons systems research
and development, logistics, and finance.  Attackers have also stolen,
modified, and destroyed data and software.  In a well-publicized
attack on Rome Laboratory, the Air Force's premier command and
control research facility, two hackers took control of laboratory
support systems, established links to foreign Internet sites, and
stole tactical and artificial intelligence research data. 

The potential for catastrophic damage is great.  Organized foreign
nationals or terrorists could use "information warfare" techniques to
disrupt military operations by harming command and control systems,
the public switch network, and other systems or networks Defense
relies on. 

Defense is taking action to address this growing problem, but faces
significant challenges in controlling unauthorized access to its
computer systems.  Currently, Defense is attempting to react to
successful attacks as it learns of them, but it has no uniform policy
for assessing risks, protecting its systems, responding to incidents,
or assessing damage.  Training of users and system and network
administrators is inconsistent and constrained by limited resources. 
Technical solutions being developed, including firewalls,\2 smart
cards,\3 and network monitoring systems, will improve protection of
Defense information.  However, the success of these measures depends
on whether Defense implements them in tandem with better policy and
personnel solutions. 


--------------------
\1 The term hackers has a relatively long history.  Hackers were at
one time persons who explored the inner workings of computer systems
to expand their capabilities, as opposed to those who simply used
computer systems.  Today the term generally refers to unauthorized
individuals who attempt to penetrate information systems; browse,
steal, or modify data; deny access or service to others; or cause
damage or harm in some other way. 

\2 Firewalls are hardware and software components that protect one
set of system resources (e.g., host systems, local area networks)
from attack by outside network users (e.g., Internet users) by
blocking and checking all incoming network traffic.  See chapter 3
for a discussion of firewalls. 

\3 Smart cards are access cards containing encoded information and
sometimes a microprocessor and a user interface.  The encoded
information and/or the information generated by the processor are
used to gain access to a computer system or facility. 


   PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3


      COMPUTER ATTACKS ARE AN
      INCREASING THREAT
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.1

In preventing computer attacks, Defense has to protect a vast and
complex information infrastructure:  currently, it has over 2.1
million computers, 10,000 local networks, and 100 long-distance
networks.  Defense also critically depends on information
technology--it uses computers to help design weapons, identify and
track enemy targets, pay soldiers, mobilize reservists, and manage
supplies.  Indeed, its very warfighting capability is dependent on
computer-based telecommunications networks and information systems. 

Defense's computer systems are particularly susceptible to attack
through connections on the Internet, which Defense uses to enhance
communication and information sharing.  In turning to the Internet,
Defense has increased its own exposure to attacks.  More and more
computer users--currently over 40 million worldwide--are connecting
to the Internet.  This increases the risks of unauthorized access to
information and disruption of service by outsiders.  Defense systems
connected to outside networks contain information that, while
unclassified, is nevertheless sensitive and warrants protection
because of the role it plays in Defense missions. 


      ATTACKS ARE COSTLY AND
      DAMAGING
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.2

DISA estimates indicate that Defense may have been attacked as many
as 250,000 times last year.  However, the exact number is not known
because, according to DISA, only about 1 in 150 attacks is actually
detected and reported.  In addition, in testing its systems, DISA
attacks and successfully penetrates Defense systems 65 percent of the
time.  According to Defense officials, attackers have obtained and
corrupted sensitive information--they have stolen, modified, and
destroyed both data and software.  They have installed unwanted files
and "back doors" which circumvent normal system protection and allow
attackers unauthorized access in the future.  They have shut down and
crashed entire systems and networks, denying service to users who
depend on automated systems to help meet critical missions.  Numerous
Defense functions have been adversely affected, including weapons and
supercomputer research, logistics, finance, procurement, personnel
management, military health, and payroll. 

In addition to the security breaches and service disruptions they
cause, these attacks are expensive.  The 1994 Rome Laboratory
incident alone cost Defense over $500,000 to assess the damage to its
systems, ensure the reliability of the information in the systems,
patch the vulnerabilities in its networks and systems, and attempt to
identify the attackers and their locations.  Although Defense has not
estimated the total cost of repairing damage caused by the thousands
of attacks experienced each year, it believes they are costing tens
or possibly even hundreds of millions of dollars. 


      POTENTIAL THREAT TO NATIONAL
      SECURITY
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.3

There is mounting evidence that attacks on Defense computer systems
pose a serious threat to national security.  Internet connections
make it possible for enemies armed with less equipment and weapons to
gain a competitive edge at a small price.  As a result, this will
become an increasingly attractive way for terrorist or adversaries to
wage attacks against Defense.  For example, major disruptions to
military operations and readiness could threaten national security if
attackers successfully corrupted sensitive information and systems or
denied service from vital communications backbones or power systems. 

The National Security Agency has acknowledged that potential
adversaries are developing a body of knowledge about Defense's and
other U.S.  systems and about methods to attack these systems. 
According to Defense officials, these methods, which include
sophisticated computer viruses and automated attack routines, allow
adversaries to launch untraceable attacks from anywhere in the world. 
In some extreme scenarios, studies show that terrorists or other
adversaries could seize control of Defense information systems and
seriously degrade the nation's ability to deploy and sustain military
forces.  Official estimates show that more than 120 countries already
have or are developing such computer attack capabilities. 


      CHALLENGES IN COUNTERING
      ATTACKS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3.4

In guarding its information, Defense faces the same risks and
challenges as other government and private sector organizations that
rely heavily on information technology.  The task of preventing
unauthorized users from compromising the confidentiality, integrity,
or availability\4 of sensitive information, is increasingly difficult
in the face of the growth in Internet use, the increasing skill
levels of attackers themselves, and technological advances in their
tools and methods of attack. 

Defense is taking actions to strengthen information systems security
and counter computer attacks, but increased resources, and management
commitment are needed.  Currently, many of Defense's policies
relating to computer attacks are outdated and inconsistent.  They do
not set standards or mandate specific actions for important security
activities such as vulnerability assessments, internal reporting of
attacks, correction of vulnerabilities, and damage assessments.  Many
of Defense's policies were developed when computers were physically
and electronically isolated and do not reflect today's "networked"
environment.  Computer users are often unaware of system
vulnerabilities and weak security practices.  The majority of system
and network administrators are not adequately trained in security and
do not have sufficient time to perform their duties.  Technical
solutions to security show promise, but these alone do not ensure
security.  While Defense is attempting to react to attacks as it
becomes aware of them, it will not be in a strong position to deter
them until it develops and implements more aggressive, proactive
detection and reaction programs. 


--------------------
\4 Confidentiality refers to keeping information from being disclosed
to unauthorized parties, i.e., protecting its secrecy.  Integrity
refers to keeping information accurate, i.e., keeping it from being
modified or corrupted.  Availability refers to ensuring the ability
of a system to keep working efficiently and keep information
accessible. 


   RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4

Chapter 4 of this report contains recommendations to the Secretary of
Defense for ensuring that sufficient priority, resources, and
top-management attention are committed to establishing a more
effective information systems security program--one that includes (1)
improving security policies and procedures, (2) increasing user
awareness and accountability, (3) setting minimum standards for
ensuring that system and network security personnel have sufficient
time and training to properly do their jobs, (4) implementing more
proactive technical protection and monitoring systems, and (5)
evaluating Defense's incident response capability.  It also includes
a recommendation to the Secretary for assigning clear responsibility
and accountability throughout the Department for the successful
implementation of the security program. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

GAO provided Department of Defense officials a draft of this report
and discussed it with them on May 15, 1996.  These officials
generally agreed with the findings, conclusions, and recommendations
in this report.  The Department's comments and our evaluation are
discussed in chapter 4 and have been incorporated where appropriate. 


INTRODUCTION
============================================================ Chapter 1

As a result of the rapid growth in computer technology, the
Department of Defense, like the rest of government and the private
sector, has become extremely dependent on automated information
systems.  These systems have also become increasingly interconnected
worldwide to form virtual communities in cyberspace.  The Department
calls its portion of this global community the Defense information
infrastructure.\1 To communicate and exchange unclassified
information, Defense relies extensively on a host of commercial
carriers and common user networks.  This network environment offers
Defense tremendous opportunities for streamlining operations and
improving efficiency, but also greatly increases the risks of
unauthorized access to information. 


--------------------
\1 The Defense information infrastructure consists of communications
networks, computers, software, databases, applications, and other
capabilities that meets the information processing, storage, and
communications needs of Defense users in peace and wartime. 


   DEFENSE'S COMPUTER ENVIRONMENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1

As depicted in figure 1.1, the Department of Defense has a vast
information infrastructure of computers and networks to protect
including over 2.1 million computers, 10,000 local networks, 100
long-distance networks, 200 command centers, and 16 central computer
processing facilities or MegaCenters.  There are over 2 million
Defense computer users and an additional two million non-Defense
users that do business with the Department. 

As discussed in chapter 2, Defense systems contain very valuable and
sensitive information including commercial transactions, payrolls,
sensitive research data, intelligence, operational plans, procurement
sensitive source selection data, health records, personnel records,
and weapons systems maintenance records.  This unclassified but
sensitive information constitutes a majority of the information on
Defense computers.  The systems are attractive targets for
individuals and organizations seeking monetary gain, or dedicated to
damaging Defense and its operations.  Generally, classified
information such as war planning data or top secret research is safer
from attack since it is (1) protected on computers isolated from
outside networks, (2) encrypted, or (3) only transmitted on
dedicated, secure circuits. 

   Figure 1.1:  The Defense
   Information Infrastructure

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


   THE INTERNET
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:2

The Internet is a global network interconnecting thousands of
dissimilar computer networks and millions of computers worldwide. 
Over the past 20 years, it has evolved from its relatively obscure
use by scientists and researchers to its significant role today as a
popular, user-friendly, and cost-effective means of communication and
information exchange.  Millions of people conduct business over the
Internet, and millions more use it for entertainment. 

Internet use has been more than doubling annually for the last
several years to an estimated 40 million users in nearly every
country today.  Connections are growing at an ever increasing rate;
the Internet is adding a new network about every 30 minutes.  Because
the Internet strives to be a seamless web of networks, it is
virtually impossible today to distinguish where one network ends and
another begins.  Local, state, and federal government networks, for
example, are interconnected with commercial networks, which in turn
are interconnected with military networks, financial networks,
networks controlling the distribution of electrical power, and so on. 

Defense itself uses the Internet to exchange electronic-mail, log on
to remote computer sites worldwide, and to download and upload files
from remote locations.  During the conflict in the Persian Gulf,
Defense used the Internet to communicate with U.S.  allies and gather
and disseminate intelligence and counter-intelligence information. 
Many Defense and information technology experts predict that Defense
will increase its reliance on Internet in the future.  They believe
that public messages originating within regions of conflict will
provide early warnings of significant developments earlier than the
more traditional indications and warnings obtained through normal
intelligence gathering.  They also envision the Internet as a back-up
communications medium if other conventional channels are disrupted
during conflicts. 

Though clearly beneficial, the Internet also poses serious computer
security concerns for Defense and other government and commercial
organizations.  Increasingly, attempted break-ins and intrusions into
their systems are being detected.  Federal law enforcement agencies
are likewise initiating more investigations of computer systems
intrusions, based on the rising level of Internet-related security
breaches and crimes.  Similarly, security technologies and products
are being developed and used to enhance Internet security.  However,
as new security tools are developed, hackers quickly learn how to
defeat them or exploit other vulnerabilities. 


   HOW COMPUTER SYSTEMS ARE
   ATTACKED
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:3

A variety of weaknesses can leave computer systems vulnerable to
attack.  For example, they are vulnerable when (1) inexperienced or
untrained users accidentally violate good security practices by
inadvertently publicizing their passwords, (2) weak passwords are
chosen which can be easily guessed, or (3) identified security
weaknesses go uncorrected.  Malicious threats can be intentionally
designed to unleash computer viruses,\2 trigger future attacks, or
install software programs that compromise or damage information and
systems. 

Attackers use a variety of methods to exploit numerous computer
system vulnerabilities.  According to Defense, the three primary
methods described below account for most of the successful attacks. 

Sendmail is a common type of electronic mail used over the Internet. 
An attacker can install malicious code in an electronic mail message
and mail it to a networked machine.  Sendmail will scan the message
and look for its address, but also execute the attacker's code. 
Since sendmail is executing at the system's root level, it has all
systems privileges and can, for example, enter a new password into
the system's password file which gives the attacker total system
privileges. 

Password cracking and theft is a technique in which attackers try to
guess or steal passwords to obtain access to computer systems.  This
technique has been automated by attackers; rather than attackers
trying to guess legitimate users' passwords, computers can very
efficiently and systematically do the guessing.  For example, if the
password is a dictionary word, a computer can quickly look up all
possibilities to find a match.  Complex passwords comprised of
alphanumeric characters are more difficult to crack.  However, even
with complex passwords, powerful computers can use brute force to
compare all possible combinations of characters until a match is
found.  Of course, if attackers can create their own passwords in a
system, as in the sendmail example above, they do not need to guess a
legitimate one. 

Packet sniffing is a technique in which attackers surreptitiously
insert a software program at remote network switches or host
computers.  The program monitors information packets as they are sent
through networks and sends a copy of the information retrieved to the
hacker.  By picking up the first 125 keystrokes of a connection,
attackers can learn passwords and user identifications, which, in
turn, they can use to break into systems. 

Once they have gained access, attackers use the computer systems as
though they were legitimate users.  They steal information, both from
the systems compromised as well as systems connected to them. 
Attackers also deny service to authorized users, often by flooding
the computer system with messages or processes generated to absorb
system resources, leaving little available for authorized use. 

Attackers have varied motives in penetrating systems.  Some are
merely looking for amusement; they break in to obtain interesting
data, for the challenge of using someone else's computers, or to
compete with other attackers.  They are curious, but not actively
malicious, though at times they inadvertently cause damage. 
Others--known as computer vandals--are out to cause harm to
particular organizations, and in doing so, attempt to ensure that
their adversary knows about the attack.  Finally, some attackers are
professional thieves and spies who aim to break in, copy data, and
leave without damage.  Often, their attacks, because of the
sophistication of the tools they use, go undetected.  Defense is an
especially attractive target to this type of attacker, because, for
example, it develops and works with advanced research data and other
information interesting to foreign adversaries or commercial
competitors. 

Attackers use a variety of tools and techniques to identify and
exploit system vulnerabilities and to collect information passing
through networks, including valid passwords and user names for both
local systems as well as remote systems that local users can access. 
As technology has advanced over the past two decades, so have the
tools and techniques of those who attempt to break into systems. 
Figure 1.2 shows how the technical knowledge required by an attacker
decreases as the sophistication of the tools and techniques
increases.  Some of the computer attack tools, such as SATAN,\3 are
now so user-friendly that very little computer experience or
knowledge is required to launch automated attacks on systems. 

   Figure 1.2:  Attackers Require
   Less Knowledge as Tool
   Sophistication Increases

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  Department of Defense. 

Also, informal hacker groups, such as the 2600 club, the Legions of
Doom, and Phrackers Inc., openly share information on the Internet
about how to break into computer systems.  This open sharing of
information combined with the availability of user-friendly and
powerful attack tools makes it relatively easy for anyone to learn
how to attack systems or to refine their attack techniques. 


--------------------
\2 A virus is a code fragment that reproduces by attaching to another
program.  It may damage data directly, or it may degrade system
performance by taking over system resources which are then not
available to authorized users. 

\3 SATAN is an acronym that stands for Security Administrator Tool
for Analyzing Networks.  It was designed to help network
administrators scan their computers for security weaknesses, but has
been used effectively by hackers to break into systems. 


   OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND
   METHODOLOGY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:4

The Ranking Minority Member, Senate Committee on Governmental
Affairs; the Ranking Minority Member, Permanent Subcommittee on
Investigations, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs; and the
Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs
and Criminal Justice, House Committee on Government Reform and
Oversight requested information on the extent to which Defense
computer systems are being attacked, the damage attackers have
caused, and the potential for more damage.  We were also asked to
assess Defense efforts to minimize intrusions into its computer
systems. 

To achieve these objectives, we obtained documentation showing the
number of recent attacks and results of tests conducted by Defense
personnel to penetrate its own computer systems.  We obtained data on
actual attacks to show which systems were attacked, and how and when
the attack occurred.  We also obtained information available on the
extent of damage caused by the attack and determined if Defense
performed damage assessments.  We obtained documentation that
discusses the harm that outsiders have caused and can potentially
cause to computer systems. 

We also assessed initiatives at Defense designed to defend against
computer systems attacks.  We reviewed the Department's information
systems security policies to evaluate their effectiveness in helping
to prevent and respond to attacks.  We discussed with Defense
officials their efforts to provide information security awareness and
training programs to Defense personnel.  We obtained information on
technical products and services currently available and planned to
protect workstations, systems, and networks.  We also obtained and
evaluated information on obstacles Defense and others face in
attempting to identify, apprehend, and prosecute those who attack
computer systems. 

We interviewed officials and obtained documentation from the

  -- Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command,
     Control, Communications, and Intelligence, Washington, D.C.;

  -- Defense Information Systems Agency, Center for Information
     Systems Security, Washington, D.C.;

  -- Army, Navy, and Air Force Headquarters Offices, Washington,
     D.C.;

  -- National Security Agency, Ft.  Meade, Maryland;

  -- Air Force Information Warfare Center, Kelly Air Force Base, San
     Antonio, Texas;

  -- Navy Fleet Information Warfare Center, Norfolk, Virginia;

  -- Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Bolling Air Force
     Base, Washington, D.C.;

  -- Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Navy Yard, Washington,
     D.C.;

  -- Army Criminal Investigation Command, Ft.  Belvoir, Virginia;

  -- Rome Laboratory, Rome, New York;

  -- Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.;

  -- Army Military Traffic Management Command, Falls Church,
     Virginia;

  -- Pentagon Single Agency Manager, Washington, D.C.;

  -- Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio;

  -- Army Intelligence and Security Command, Ft.  Belvoir, Virginia;

  -- Army 902d Military Intelligence Group, Ft.  Meade, Maryland;

  -- Science Applications International Corporation, McLean,
     Virginia; and

  -- Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 

We also interviewed officials and obtained data from the Computer
Emergency Response Team Coordination Center, Software Engineering
Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In
response to computer security threats, Defense established the
Coordination Center in 1988, to support users of the Internet.  The
Center works with the Internet community to detect and resolve
computer security incidents and to prevent future incidents. 

Our review was conducted from September 1995 to April 1996 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.  We
provided a draft of this report to the Department of Defense for
comment.  On May 15, 1996, we discussed the facts, conclusions, and
recommendations with cognizant Defense officials.  Their comments are
presented and evaluated in chapter 4 and have been incorporated where
appropriate. 


COMPUTER ATTACKS POSE CRITICAL
RISKS TO DEFENSE
============================================================ Chapter 2

To operate more effectively in a technologically sophisticated world,
Defense is moving from a computing environment of stand-alone
information systems that perform specific functions to a globally
integrated information structure.  In doing so, it has linked
thousands of computers to the Internet as well as other networks and
increased its dependence on computer and network technology to carry
out important military functions worldwide.  As a result, some
operations would now be crippled if (1) the supporting technology
failed or (2) information was stolen or destroyed.  For example: 

  -- Defense cannot locate or deliver supplies promptly without
     properly functioning inventory and logistics systems;

  -- Defense relies heavily on computer technology--especially a
     network of simulators that emulate complex battle situations--to
     train staff;

  -- it is impossible to pay, assign, move, or track people without
     globally networked information systems;

  -- Defense cannot control costs, pay vendors, let or track
     contracts, allocate or release funds, or report on activities
     without automation; and

  -- Defense systems handle billions of dollars in financial
     transactions for pay, contract reimbursement, and economic
     commerce. 

Defense systems are enticing targets for attackers for several
reasons.  Attackers seeking financial gain may want to access
financial systems to direct fraudulent payments, transfer money
between accounts, submit fictitious claims, direct orders for
unneeded products, or wipe out an entire organization's budget. 
Companies doing business with Defense may want to strengthen their
competitive position by accessing systems that contain valuable
information about billions of dollars worth of sophisticated research
and development data and information on contracts and evaluation
criteria.  Enemies may want to better position themselves against our
military by stealing information on force locations and plans for
military campaigns and use this data to locate, target, or misdirect
forces. 


   NUMBER OF ATTACKS IS INCREASING
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1

Although no one knows the exact number, DISA estimates show that
Defense may have experienced about 250,000 attacks last year, and
that the number of attacks is increasing.  Establishing an exact
count of attacks is difficult since some attackers take measures to
avoid detection.  In addition, the Department does not detect or
react to most attacks, according to DISA, and does not report the
majority of attacks it does detect. 

Estimates of the number of computer attacks are based on DISA's
Vulnerability Analysis and Assessment Program.  Under this program,
DISA personnel attempt to penetrate computer systems at various
military service and Defense agency sites via the Internet.  Since
the program's inception in 1992, DISA has conducted 38,000 attacks on
Defense computer systems to test how well they were protected.  DISA
successfully gained access 65 percent of the time (see figure 2.1). 
Of these successful attacks, only 988 or about 4 percent were
detected by the target organizations.  Of those detected, only 267
attacks or roughly 27 percent were reported to DISA.  Therefore, only
about 1 in 150 successful attacks drew an active defensive response
from the organizations being tested.  Reasons for Defense's poor
detection rates are discussed in chapter 3. 

   Figure 2.1:  Results of DISA
   Vulnerability Assessments

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  Defense Information
   Systems Agency.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

The Air Force conducts similar vulnerability assessments.  Its data
shows better success in detecting and reacting to attacks than DISA's
data.  However, Defense officials generally acknowledge that, because
the Air Force's computer emergency response team resources are larger
and more experienced, they have had better success in detecting and
reacting to attacks than either the Navy or Army. 

DISA also maintains data on officially reported attacks.  Defense
installations reported 53 attacks in 1992, 115 in 1993, 255 in 1994,
and 559 in 1995.  Figure 2.2 shows this historical data on the number
of officially reported attacks and projections for future attack
activity. 

   Figure 2.2:  Number of Reported
   Attacks

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Source:  Defense Information Systems Agency. 


   ATTACKS HAVE CAUSED
   CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2

According to Defense officials, attacks on Department computer
systems have been costly and considerably damaging.  Attackers have
stolen, modified, and destroyed both data and software.  They have
installed unwanted files and "back doors" which circumvent normal
system protection and allow attackers unauthorized access in the
future.  They have shut down entire systems and networks, thereby
denying service to users who depend on automated systems to help meet
critical missions.  Numerous Defense functions have been adversely
affected, including weapons and supercomputer research, logistics,
finance, procurement, personnel management, military health, and
payroll. 

Following are examples of attacks to date.  The first attack we
highlight, on Rome Laboratory, New York, was well-documented by
Defense and of particular concern to committees requesting this
report because the attack shows how a small group of hackers can
easily and quickly take control of Defense networks. 


      ROME LABORATORY
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.1

Rome Laboratory, New York, is Air Force's premier command and control
research facility.  The facility's research projects include
artificial intelligence systems, radar guidance systems, and target
detection and tracking systems.  The laboratory works cooperatively
with academic institutions, commercial research facilities, and
Defense contractors in conducting its research and relies heavily on
the Internet in doing so. 

During March and April 1994, more than 150 Internet intrusions were
made on the Laboratory by a British hacker and an unidentified
hacker.  The attackers used trojan horses\1 and sniffers to access
and control Rome's operational network.  As depicted in figure 2.3,
they also took measures to prevent a complete trace of their attack. 
Instead of accessing Rome Laboratory computers directly, they weaved
their way through various phone switches in South America, through
commercial sites on the east and west coast, and then to the Rome
Laboratory. 

The attackers were able to seize control of Rome's support systems
for several days and establish links to foreign Internet sites. 
During this time, they copied and downloaded critical information
such as air tasking order\2 systems data.  By masquerading as a
trusted user at Rome Laboratory, they were also able to successfully
attack systems at other government facilities, including the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight
Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, some Defense contractors,
and other private sector organizations.  Figure 2.3 illustrates the
route the hackers took to get to the Rome Laboratory computers and
the computer sites they successfully attacked from Rome. 

   Figure 2.3:  Computer Sites
   Attacked During Rome Laboratory
   Incident

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Because the Air Force did not know it was attacked for at least 3
days, vast damage to Rome Laboratory systems and the information in
those systems could potentially have occurred.  As stated in the Air
Force report on the incident,\3 "We have only the intruders to thank
for the fact that no lasting damage occurred.  Had they decided, as a
skilled attacker most certainly will, to bring down the network
immediately after the initial intrusion, we would have been powerless
to stop them." However, the Air Force really does not know whether or
not any lasting damage occurred.  Furthermore, because one of the
attackers was never caught, investigators do not know what was done
with the copied data. 

The Air Force Information Warfare Center (AFIWC) estimated that the
attacks cost the government over $500,000 at the Rome Laboratory
alone.  Their estimate included the time spent taking systems off the
networks, verifying systems integrity, installing security patches,
and restoring service, and costs incurred by the Air Force's Office
of Special Investigations and Information Warfare Center.  It also
included estimates for time and money lost due to the Laboratory's
research staff not being able to use their computer systems. 

However, the Air Force did not include the cost of the damage at
other facilities attacked from the Rome Laboratory or the value of
the research data that was compromised, copied, and downloaded by the
attacker.  For example, Rome Laboratory officials said that over 3
years of research and $4 million were invested in the air tasking
order research project compromised by the attackers, and that it
would have cost that much to replace it if they had been unable to
recover from damage caused by the attackers.  Similarly, Rome
laboratory officials told us that all of their research data is
valuable but that they do not know how to estimate this value. 

There also may have been some national security risks associated with
the Rome incident.  Air Force officials told us that at least one of
the hackers may have been working for a foreign country interested in
obtaining military research data or information on areas in which the
Air Force was conducting advanced research.  In addition, Air Force
Information Warfare Center officials told us that the hackers may
have intended to install malicious code in software which could be
activated years later, possibly jeopardizing a weapons system's
ability to perform safely and as intended, and even threatening the
lives of the soldiers or pilots operating the system. 


--------------------
\1 A trojan horse is an independent program that when called by an
authorized user performs a useful function, but also performs
unauthorized functions, often usurping the privileges of the user. 

\2 Air tasking orders are the messages commanders use during wartime
to communicate air battle tactics, intelligence, and targeting
information to pilots and other weapons systems operators. 

\3 Final Report, A Technical Analysis of the Rome Laboratory Attacks,
Air Force Information Warfare Center, January 20, 1995


      OTHER ATTACKS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.2

  -- The U.S.  Naval Academy's computer systems were penetrated by
     unknown attackers in December 1994.  The intrusions originated
     from Great Britain, Finland, Canada, the University of Kansas,
     and the University of Alabama.  During the attack, 24 servers\4
     were accessed and sniffer programs were installed on 8 of these. 
     A main router\5 was compromised, and a system's name and address
     were changed, making the system inaccessible to authorized
     users.  In addition, one system back-up file and files from four
     other systems were deleted.  Six other systems were corrupted,
     two encrypted password files were compromised, and over 12,000
     passwords were changed.  The Navy did not determine how much the
     attack cost and Navy investigators were unable to identify the
     attacker(s).  At a minimum, however, the attack caused
     considerable disruptions to the Academy's ability to process and
     store sensitive information. 

  -- Between April 1990 and May 1991, hackers from the Netherlands
     penetrated computer systems at 34 Defense sites.  The hackers
     browsed directories and modified systems to obtain full
     privileges allowing them future access.  They read e-mail, in
     some cases searching the messages for key words such as nuclear,
     weapons, missile, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm.  In several
     instances, the hackers copied and stored military data on
     systems at major U.S.  universities.  After the attacks, the
     hackers modified systems logs to avoid detection and to remove
     traces of their activities.  We testified on these attacks
     before the Subcommittee on Government Information and
     Regulation, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, on
     November 20, 1991.\6

  -- In 1995 and 1996, an attacker from Argentina used the Internet
     to access a U.S.  university system, and from there broke into
     computer networks at the Naval Research Laboratory, other
     Defense installations, NASA, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. 
     The systems at these sites contained sensitive research
     information, such as aircraft design, radar technology, and
     satellite engineering, that is ultimately used in weapons and
     command and control systems.  The Navy could not determine what
     information was compromised and did not attempt to determine the
     cost of the incident. 

  -- Unknown person(s) accessed two unclassified computer systems at
     the Army Missile Research Laboratory, White Sands Missile Range
     and installed a sniffer program.  The intruder was detected
     entering the systems a second and third time, but the sniffer
     program was removed before the intruder could be identified. 
     The missile range's computer systems contain sensitive data,
     including test results on the accuracy and reliability of
     sophisticated weaponry.  As with the case above, the Army could
     not determine what data was compromised.  However, such data
     could prove very valuable to foreign adversaries. 

While these are specific examples, Defense officials say they reflect
the thousands of attacks experienced every year.  Although no one has
attempted to determine the total cost of responding to these attacks,
Defense officials agreed the cost of these incidents is significant
and probably totals tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars per
year.  Such costs should include (1) detecting and reacting to
attacks, repairing systems, and checking to ensure the integrity of
information, (2) lost productivity due to computer shutdowns, (3)
tracking, catching, and prosecuting attackers, and (4) the cost and
value of information compromised. 


--------------------
\4 A server is a network computer that performs selected processing
operations for computer users on the network. 

\5 A router is a component that interconnects networks.  Packets of
information traversing the Internet travel from router to router
until they reach their destination. 

\6 Computer Security:  Hackers Penetrate DOD Computer Systems
(GAO/T-IMTEC-92-5, November 20, 1991). 


   FUTURE ATTACKS COULD THREATEN
   NATIONAL SECURITY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:3

Because so few incidents are actually detected and reported, no one
knows the full extent of damage caused by computer attacks.  However,
according to many Defense and private sector experts, the potential
for catastrophic damage is great given (1) the known vulnerabilities
of the Department's command and control, military research,
logistics, and other systems, (2) weaknesses in national information
infrastructure systems, such as public networks which Defense depends
upon, and (3) the threat of terrorists or foreign nationals using
sophisticated offensive information warfare techniques.  They believe
that attackers could disrupt military operations and threaten
national security by successfully compromising Defense information
and systems or denying service from vital commercial communications
backbones or power systems. 

The National Security Agency (NSA) has acknowledged that potential
adversaries are developing a body of knowledge about the Defense's
and other U.S.  systems, and about methods to attack these systems. 
According to NSA, these methods, which include sophisticated computer
viruses and automated attack routines, allow adversaries to launch
untraceable attacks from anywhere in the world.  In some extreme
scenarios, experts state that terrorists or other adversaries could
seize control of Defense information systems and seriously degrade
the nation's ability to deploy and sustain military forces.  The
Department of Energy and NSA estimate that more than 120 countries
have established computer attack capabilities.  In addition, most
countries are believed to be planning some degree of information
warfare as part of their overall security strategy. 

At the request of the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Command,
Control, Communications and Intelligence, the Rand Corporation\7
conducted exercises known as "The Day After .  .  ." between January
and June 1995 to simulate an information warfare attack.  Senior
members of the national security community and representatives from
national security-related telecommunications and information systems
industries participated in evaluating and responding to a
hypothetical conflict between an adversary and the United States and
its allies in the year 2000. 

In the scenario, an adversary attacks computer systems throughout the
United States and allied countries, causing accidents, crashing
systems, blocking communications, and inciting panic.  For example,
in the scenario, automatic tellers at two of Georgia's largest banks
are attacked.  The attacks create confusion and panic when the
automatic tellers wrongfully add and debit thousands of dollars from
customers' accounts.  A freight train is misrouted when a logic
bomb\8 is inserted into a railroad computer system, causing a major
accident involving a high speed passenger train in Maryland. 
Meanwhile, telephone service is sabotaged in Washington, a major
airplane crash is caused in Great Britain; and Cairo, Egypt loses all
power service.  An all-out attack is launched on computers at most
military installations, slowing down, disconnecting, or crashing the
systems.  Weapons systems designed to pinpoint enemy tanks and troop
formations begin to malfunction due to electronic infections. 

The exercises were designed to assess the plausibility of information
warfare scenarios and help define key issues to be addressed in this
area.  The exercises highlighted some defining features of
information warfare, including the fact that attack mechanisms and
techniques can be acquired with relatively modest investment.  The
exercises also revealed that no adequate tactical warning system
exists for distinguishing between information warfare attacks and
accidents.  Perhaps most importantly, the study demonstrated that
because the U.S.  economy, society, and military rely increasingly on
a high performance networked information infrastructure, this
infrastructure presents a set of attractive strategic targets for
opponents who possess information warfare capabilities. 

The Defense Science Board, a Federal Advisory Committee established
to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense,
acknowledged the threat of an information warfare attack and the
damage that could be done in its October 1994 report, "Information
Architecture for the Battlefield".\9 The report states

     "there is mounting evidence that there is a threat that goes
     beyond hackers and criminal elements.  This threat arises from
     terrorist groups or nation states, and is far more subtle and
     difficult to counter than the more unstructured but growing
     problem caused by hackers.  The threat causes concern over the
     specter of military readiness problems caused by attacks on
     Defense computer systems, but it goes well beyond the
     Department.  Every aspect of modern life is tied to a computer
     system at some point, and most of these systems are relatively
     unprotected.  This is especially so for those tied to the NII
     (National Information Infrastructure)."

The report added that a large structured attack with strategic intent
against the United States could be prepared and exercised under the
guise of unstructured activities and that such an attack could
"cripple U.S.  operational readiness and military effectiveness."

These studies demonstrate the growing potential threat to national
security posed by computer attacks.  Information warfare will
increasingly become an inexpensive but highly effective tactic for
disrupting military operations.  As discussed in chapter 3,
successfully protecting information and detecting and reacting to
computer attacks presents Defense and our nation with significant
challenges. 


--------------------
\7 Rand is a nonprofit institution whose charter is to improve public
policy through research and analysis.  This information warfare
research was performed by Rand's National Defense Research Institute,
a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the
Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the defense
agencies. 

\8 A logic bomb is unauthorized code that creates havoc when a
particular event occurs, e.g.  the perpetrator's name is deleted from
the payroll or a certain date occurs. 

\9 The report was prepared by a Defense Science Board task force
chartered to develop recommendations on implementing an information
architecture to enhance the combat effectiveness of theater and joint
task force commanders. 


DEFENSE FACES SIGNIFICANT
CHALLENGES IN COUNTERING ATTACKS
============================================================ Chapter 3

The task of precluding unauthorized users from compromising the
confidentiality, integrity, or availability of information is
increasingly difficult given the complexity of Defense's information
infrastructure, growth of and reliance on outside networks including
the Internet, and the increasing sophistication of the attackers and
their tools.  Absolute protection of Defense information is neither
practical nor affordable.  Instead, Defense must turn to risk
management to ensure computer security.  In doing so, however, it
must make tradeoffs that consider the magnitude of the threat, the
value and sensitivity of the information to be protected, and the
cost of protecting it. 


   ELEMENTS OF A GOOD INFORMATION
   SYSTEMS SECURITY PROGRAM
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1

In our review of key studies and security documents and discussions
with Defense security experts, certain core elements emerged as
critical to effective information system security.  A good computer
security program begins with top management's understanding of the
risks associated with networked computers, and a commitment that
computer security will be given a high priority.  At Defense,
management attention to computer security has been uneven.  The
Defense information infrastructure has evolved into a set of
individual computer systems and interconnected networks, many of
which were developed without sufficient attention to the entire
infrastructure.  While some local area networks and Defense
installations have excellent security programs, others do not. 
However, the overall infrastructure is only as secure as the weakest
link.  Therefore, all components of the Defense infrastructure must
be considered when making investment decisions. 

In addition, policies and procedures must also reflect this
philosophy and guide implementation of the Department's overall
security program as well as the security plans for individual Defense
installations.  The policies should set minimum standards and
requirements for key security activities and clearly assign
responsibility and accountability for ensuring that they are carried
out.  Further, sufficient personnel, training, and resources must be
provided to implement these policies. 

While not intended to be a comprehensive list, following are security
activities that all of the security studies and experts agreed were
important: 

(1) clear and consistent information security policies and
procedures,

(2) vulnerability assessments to identify security weaknesses at
individual Defense installations,

(3) mandatory correction of identified network/system security
weaknesses,

(4) mandatory reporting of attacks to help better identify and
communicate vulnerabilities and needed corrective actions,

(5) damage assessments to reestablish the integrity of the
information compromised by an attacker,

(6) awareness training to ensure that computer users understand the
security risks associated with networked computers and practice good
security,

(7) assurance that network managers and system administrators have
sufficient time and training to do their jobs,

(8) prudent use of firewalls, smart cards, and other technical
solutions, and

(9) an incident response capability to aggressively detect and react
to attacks and track and prosecute attackers. 

Defense has recognized the importance of good computer security.  The
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications
and Intelligence has stated,

     "The vulnerability to .  .  .  systems and networks is
     increasing .  .  .  The ability of individuals to penetrate
     computer networks and deny, damage, or destroy data has been
     demonstrated on many occasions.  .  .  As our warfighters become
     more and more dependent on our information systems, the
     potential for disaster is obvious."

In addition, as part of its Federal Managers' Financial Integrity
Act\1 requirements, the Department identified information systems
security as a system weakness in its Fiscal Year 1995 Annual
Statement of Assurance, a report documenting high-risk areas
requiring management attention.  In its statement, Defense
acknowledged a significant increase in attacks on its information
systems and its dependence on these systems. 

Also, Defense has implemented a formal defensive information warfare
program.  This program was started in December 1992 through Defense
Directive 3600.1.  The directive broadly states that measures will be
taken as part of this program to "protect friendly information
systems by preserving the availability, integrity, and
confidentiality of the systems and the information contained within
those systems." DISA, in cooperation with the military services and
defense agencies, is responsible for implementing the program.  The
Department's December 1995 Defensive Information Warfare Management
Plan defines a three-pronged approach to protect against, detect, and
react to threats to the Defense information infrastructure.  The plan
states that Defense must monitor and detect intrusions or hostile
actions as they occur, react quickly to isolate the systems under
attack, correct the security breaches, restore service to authorized
users, and improve security. 

DISA has also taken a number of actions to implement its plan, the
most significant being the establishment of its Global Control Center
at DISA headquarters.  The center provides the facilities, equipment,
and personnel for directing the defensive information warfare
program, including detecting and responding to computer attacks. 
DISA has also established its Automated Systems Security Incident
Support Team (ASSIST) to provide a centrally coordinated
around-the-clock Defense response to attacks.  DISA also performs
other services to help secure Defense's information infrastructure,
including conducting assessments of Defense organizations'
vulnerability to computer attacks.  AFIWC has developed a computer
emergency response capability and performs functions similar to DISA. 
The Navy and Army have just established similar capabilities through
the Fleet Information Warfare Center (FIWC) and Land Information
Warfare Activity (LIWA), respectively. 

Defense is incorporating some of the elements we describe above as
necessary for strengthening information systems security and
countering computer attacks, but there are still areas where
improvement is needed.  Even though the technology environment has
changed dramatically in recent years, and the risk of attacks has
increased, top management at many organizations do not consider
computer security to be a priority.  As a result, when resources are
allocated, funding for important protective measures, such as
training or the purchase of protection technology, take a back seat. 

As discussed in the remainder of this chapter, Defense needs to
establish a more comprehensive information systems security program. 
A program which ensures that sufficient resources are directed at
protecting information systems.  Specifically, (1) Defense's policies
for protecting, detecting, and reacting to computer attacks are
outdated and incomplete, (2) computer users are often unaware of
system vulnerabilities and weak security practices, (3) system and
network administrators are not adequately trained and do not have
sufficient time to perform their duties, (4) technical solutions to
security problems show promise, but these alone cannot guarantee
protection, and (5) while Defense's incident response capability is
improving, it is not sufficient to handle the increasing threat. 


--------------------
\1 Public Law 97-255, September 8, 1982. 


   DEFENSE'S POLICIES ON
   INFORMATION SECURITY ARE
   OUTDATED AND INCOMPLETE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2

The military services and Defense agencies have issued a number of
information security policies, but they are dated, inconsistent, and
incomplete.  At least 45 separate Defense policy documents address
various computer and information security issues.  The most
significant Defense policy documents include Defense Directive
3600.1, discussed above, and Defense Directive 5200.28, entitled
Security Requirements for Automated Information Systems, dated March
21, 1988, which provides mandatory minimum information systems
security requirements.  In addition, Defense Directive 8000.1,
entitled Defense Information Management Program, dated October 27,
1992, requires DISA and the military services to provide technology
and services to ensure the availability, reliability,
maintainability, integrity, and security of Defense information. 
However, these and other policies relating to computer attacks are
outdated and inconsistent.  They do not set standards, mandate
specific actions, or clearly assign accountability for important
security activities such as vulnerability assessments, internal
reporting of attacks, correction of vulnerabilities, or damage
assessments. 

Shortcomings in Defense's computer security policy have been reported
previously.  The Joint Security Commission found similar problems in
1994, and noted that Defense's policies in this area were developed
when computers were physically and electronically isolated. 
Consequently, the Commission reported that Defense information
security policies were not suitable for today's highly networked
environment.  The Commission also found that Defense policy was based
on a philosophy of complete risk avoidance, rather than a more
realistic and balanced approach of risk reduction.  In addition, the
Commission found a profusion of policy formulation authorities within
Defense.  This has led to policies being developed which create
inefficiencies and implementation problems when organizations attempt
to coordinate and interconnect their computer systems. 

Defense policies do not specifically require the following important
security activities. 

Vulnerability Assessments:  DISA established a Vulnerability Analysis
and Assessment Program in 1992 to identify vulnerabilities in Defense
information systems.  The Air Force and Navy have similar programs,
and the Army plans to begin assessing its systems next year.  Under
its program, DISA attempts to penetrate selected Defense information
systems using various techniques, all of which are widely available
on the Internet.  DISA personnel attack vulnerabilities which have
been widely publicized in their alerts to the military services and
defense agencies.  Assessment is performed at the request of the
targeted Defense installation, and, upon completion, systems and
security personnel are given a detailed briefing.  Typically, DISA
and the installation develop a plan to strengthen the site's
defenses, more effectively detect intrusions, and determine whether
systems administrators and security personnel are adequately
experienced and trained.  Air Force and Navy on-line assessments are
similar to DISA vulnerability assessments. 

However, there is no specific Defensewide policy requiring
vulnerability assessments or criteria for prioritizing who should be
targeted first.  This has led to uneven application of this valuable
risk assessment mechanism.  Some installations have been tested
multiple times while others have never been tested.  As of March
1996, vulnerability assessments had been performed on less than 1
percent of the thousands of defense systems around the world.  DISA
and the military services recognize this shortcoming, but state that
they do not have sufficient resources to do more.  This is a concern
because vulnerabilities in one part of Defense's information
infrastructure make the entire infrastructure vulnerable. 

Correction of Vulnerabilities:  Defense does not have any policy
requirement for correcting identified deficiencies and
vulnerabilities.  Defense's computer emergency response
teams--ASSIST, AFIWC, FIWC, and LIWA--as well as the national
computer emergency response team at the Software Engineering
Institute routinely identify and broadcast to Defense network
administrators system vulnerabilities and suggested fixes.  However,
the lack of specific requirements for correcting known
vulnerabilities has led to no action or inconsistent action on the
part of some Defense organizations and installations. 

Reporting Attacks:  The Department also has no policy requiring
internal reporting of attacks or guidance on how to respond to
attacks.  System and network administrators need to know when and to
whom attacks should be reported and what response is appropriate for
reacting to attacks and ensuring systems availability,
confidentiality, and integrity.  Reporting attacks is important for
Defense to identify and understand the threat, i.e., size, scale, and
type of attack, as well as to measure the magnitude of the problem
for appropriate corrective action and resource allocation.  Further,
since a computer attack on federal facility is a crime, it should be
reported. 

Damage Assessments:  There is no policy for Defense organizations to
assess damage to their systems once an attack has been detected.  As
a result, these assessments are not usually done.  For example, Air
Force officials told us that the Rome Laboratory incident was the
exception rather than the rule.  They said that system and network
administrators, due to lack of time and money, often simply "patch"
their systems, restore service, and hope for the best.  However,
these assessments are essential to ensure the integrity of the data
in those systems and to make sure that no malicious code was inserted
that could cause severe problems later. 


   DEFENSE PERSONNEL LACK
   SUFFICIENT AWARENESS AND
   TECHNICAL TRAINING
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3

The Software Engineering Institute's Computer Emergency Response Team
estimates that at least 80 percent of the security problems it
addresses involve poorly chosen or poorly protected passwords by
computer users.  According to the Institute, many computer users do
not understand the technology they are using, the vulnerabilities in
the network environment they are working in, and the responsibilities
they have for protecting critical information.  They also often do
not understand the importance of knowing and implementing good
security policies, procedures, and techniques.  Defense officials
generally agreed that user awareness training was needed, but stated
that installation commanders do not always understand computer
security risk and, thus, do not always devote sufficient resources to
the problem.  The officials told us they are trying to overcome the
lack of resources by low cost alternatives such as banners that warn
individuals of their security responsibilities when they turn on
their computers. 

In addition, network and system administrators often do not know what
their responsibilities are for protecting their systems, and for
detecting and reacting to intrusions.  Critical computer security
responsibilities are often assigned to personnel as additional or
ancillary duties.  We interviewed 24 individuals responsible for
managing and securing systems at four military installations. 
Sixteen stated that they did not have enough time, experience, or
training to do their jobs properly.  In addition, eight stated that
system administration was not their full-time job, but rather an
ancillary duty.  Our findings were confirmed by an Air Force survey
of system administrators.  It found that 325 of 709 respondents were
unaware of procedures for reporting vulnerabilities and incidents,
249 of 515 respondents had not received any network security
training, and 377 of 706 respondents reported that their security
responsibilities were ancillary duties. 

In addition, Defense officials stated that it is not uncommon for
installations to lack a full-time, trained, experienced information
systems security officer.  Security officers generally develop and
update the site's security plan, enforce security statutes and
policy, aggregate and report all security incidents and changes in
the site's security status, and evaluate security threats and
vulnerabilities.  They also coordinate computer security with
physical and personnel security, develop back-up and contingency
plans, manage access to all information systems with sound password
and user identification procedures, ensure that audit trails of
log-ins to systems are maintained and analyzed, and perform a host of
other duties necessary to secure the location's computer systems. 
Without a full-time security official, these important security
activities are usually done in an ad hoc manner or not done at all. 
Defense officials again cited the low priority installation
commanders give security duties as the reason for the lack of
full-time, trained, experienced security officers. 

Defense has developed training courses and curricula which focus on
the secure operation of computer systems and the need to protect
information.  For example, DISA's Center for Information Systems
Security offers courses on the vulnerability of networks and computer
systems security.  Each of the military services also provides
training in this area.  While we did not assess the quality of the
training, it is clear that not enough training is done.  Defense
officials cite resource constraints as the reason for this
limitation.  To illustrate, in its August 1995 Command and Control
Protect Program Management Plan, the Army noted that it had
approximately 4000 systems administrators, but few of these had
received formal security training.  The plan stated that the systems
administrators have not been taught security basics such as how to
detect and monitor an active intrusion, establish countermeasures, or
respond to an intrusion.  The plan added that a single course is
being developed to train systems administrators, but that no funds
are available to conduct the training.  This again demonstrates the
low priority top Defense management officials often give security. 

In its February 1994 report, Redefining Security, the Joint Security
Commission had similar concerns, stating: 

     "Because of a lack of qualified personnel and a failure to
     provide adequate resources, many information systems security
     tasks are not performed adequately.  Too often critical security
     responsibilities are assigned as additional or ancillary
     duties."

The report added that the Department lacks comprehensive, consistent
training for information systems security officers, and that
Defense's current information systems security training efforts
produce inconsistent training quality and, in some cases, a
duplication of effort.  The report concluded that, despite the
importance of security awareness, training, and education programs,
these programs tend to be frequent and ready targets for budget cuts. 

According to Defense officials, installation commanders may not
understand the risks associated with networked computers, and thus
may not have devoted sufficient priority or resources to address
these problems.  These officials also cite the lack of a professional
job series for information security officials as a contributing
factor to poor security practices at Defense installations.  Until
systems security is supported by the personnel system--including
potential for advancement, financial reward, and professional
training--it will not be a full-time duty.  As a result, security
will continue to be the purview of part-time, inadequately trained
personnel. 


   TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS SHOW
   PROMISE, BUT CANNOT ALONE
   PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROTECTION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:4

As described below, Defense and the private sector are developing a
variety of technical solutions which should assist the Department in
preventing, detecting, and reacting to attacks on its computer
systems.  However, knowledgeable attackers with the right tools can
defeat these technologies.  Therefore, these should not be an
entity's sole means of defense.  Rather, they should be prudently
used in conjunction with other security measures discussed in this
chapter.  Investment in these technologies should also be based on a
comprehensive assessment of the value and sensitivity of the
information to be protected. 

One important technology is a smart card called Fortezza.  The card
and its supporting equipment, including card readers and software,
were developed by the NSA.  The card is based on the Personal
Computer Memory Card International Association industry standard and
is a credit card size electronic module which stores digital
information that can be recognized by a network or system.  The card
will be used by Defense and other government agencies to provide data
encryption\2 and authentication\3 services.  Defense plans to use the
card in its Defense Message System\4 and other systems around the
world. 

Another technology that Defense is implementing is firewalls. 
Firewalls are hardware and software components that protect one set
of system resources from attack by outside network users by blocking
and checking all incoming network traffic.  Firewalls permit
authorized users to access and transmit privileged information and
deny access to unauthorized users.  Several large commercial vendors
have developed firewall applications which Defense is using and
tailoring for specific organizations' computing and communications
needs and environments.  Like any technology, firewalls are not
perfect; hackers have successfully circumvented them in the past. 
They should not be an installation's sole means of defense, but
should be used in conjunction with the other technical, physical, and
administrative solutions discussed in this chapter. 

Many other technologies exist and are being developed today which
DISA, NSA, and the military services are using and considering for
future use.  These include automated biometrics systems which examine
an individual's physiological or behavioral traits and use that
information to identify an individual.  Biometrics systems are
available today, and are being refined for future applications, that
examine fingerprints, retina patterns, voice patterns, signatures,
and keystroke patterns.  In addition, a technology in development
called location-based authentication may help thwart attackers by
pinpointing their location.  This technology determines the actual
geographic location of a user attempting to access a system.  For
example, if developed and implemented as planned, it could prevent a
hacker in a foreign country, pretending to come from a military
installation in the United States, from logging into a Defense
system. 

These technical products show promise in protecting Defense systems
and information from unauthorized users.  However, they are
expensive--firewalls can cost from $5,000 to $40,000 for each
Internet access point,\5 and Fortezza cards and related support could
cost about $300 for each computer.\6 They also require consistent and
departmentwide implementation to be successful; continued development
to enhance their utility; and usage by personnel who have the
requisite skills and training to appropriately use them.  Once again,
no single technical solution is foolproof and, thus, combinations of
protective mechanisms should be used.  Decisions on which mechanisms
to use should be based on an assessment of threat, the sensitivity of
the information to be protected, and the cost of protection. 


--------------------
\2 Data encryption is the transformation of original text (also known
as plaintext or cleartext) into unintelligible text (also called
ciphertext) to help maintain the secrecy and integrity of the data. 

\3 Authentication is the process of proving that a user or system is
really who or what it claims to be.  It protects against the
fraudulent use of a system or the fraudulent transmission of
information. 

\4 The Defense Message System will replace Defense's current e-mail
and record message systems with a single, common electronic messaging
system.  It will add important features to Defense's current system
such as multiple levels of security, message traceability, electronic
signatures, and firewalls. 

\5 Although there are no comprehensive estimates of the number of
Internet access points, it is probably in the thousands. 

\6 Defense has more than two million personal computers and
workstations. 


   DEFENSE'S INCIDENT RESPONSE
   CAPABILITY IS LIMITED
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:5

Because absolute security is not possible and some attacks will
succeed, an aggressive incident response capability is a key element
of a good security program.  Defense has several organizations whose
primary mission is incident response, i.e.  the ability to quickly
detecting and reacting to computer attacks.  These
organizations--DISA's Center for Information Systems Security,
ASSIST, and the military service teams--as discussed previously in
this chapter provide network monitoring and incident response
services to military installations.  The AFIWC, with its Computer
Emergency Response Team and Countermeasures Engineering Team, was
established in 1993 and has considerably greater experience and
capability than the other military services.  Recognizing the need
for more incident response capability, the Navy established the FIWC
in 1995, and the Army established its LIWA this year.  However, these
organizations are not all fully staffed and do not have the
capability to respond to all reported incidents, much less the
incidents not reported.  For example, when the FIWC was established
last year, 30 personnel slots were requested, but only 3 were
granted.  Similarly, the LIWA is just beginning to build its
capability. 

Rapid detection and reaction capabilities are essential to effective
incident response.  Defense is installing devices at numerous
military sites to automatically monitor attacks on its computer
systems.  For example, the Air Force has a project underway called
Automated Security Incident Measurement (ASIM) which is designed to
measure the level of unauthorized activity against its systems. 
Under this project, several automated tools are used to examine
network activity and detect and identify unusual network events, for
example, Internet addresses not normally expected to access Defense
computers.  These tools have been installed at only 36 of the 108 Air
Force installations around the world.  Selection of these
installations was based on the sensitivity of the information, known
system vulnerabilities, and past hacker activity.  Data from the ASIM
is analyzed by personnel responsible for securing the installation's
network.  Data is also centrally analyzed at the AFIWC in San
Antonio, Texas. 

Air Force officials at AFIWC and at Rome Laboratory told us that ASIM
has been extremely useful in detecting attacks on Air Force systems. 
They added, however, that as currently configured, ASIM information
is only accumulated and automatically analyzed nightly.  As a result,
a delay occurs between the time an incident occurs and the time when
ASIM provides information on the incident.  They also stated that
ASIM is currently configured for selected operating systems and,
therefore, cannot detect activity on all Air Force computer systems. 
They added that they plan to continue refining the ASIM to broaden
its use for other Air Force operating systems and enhance its ability
to provide data on unauthorized activity more quickly.  AFIWC
officials believe that a well-publicized detection and reaction
capability can be a successful deterrent to would-be attackers. 

The Army and Navy are also developing similar devices, but they have
been implemented in only a few locations.  The Army's system, known
as Automated Intrusion Monitoring System (AIMS), has been in
development since June 1995, and is intended to provide both a local
and theater-level monitoring of computer attacks.  Currently, AIMS is
installed at the Army's 5th Signal Command in Worms, Germany and will
be used to monitor Army computers scattered throughout Europe. 

DISA officials told us that although the services' automated
detection devices are good tools, they need to be refined to allow
Defense to detect unauthorized activity as it is occurring.  DISA's
Defensive Information Warfare Management Plan provides information on
new or improved technology and programs planned for the next 1 to 5
years.  These efforts included a more powerful intrusion detection
and monitoring program, a malicious code detection and eradication
program, and a program for protecting Defense's vast information
infrastructure.  These programs, if developed and implemented as
planned, should enhance Defense's ability to protect and react to
attacks on its computer systems. 


CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND
AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR EVALUATION
============================================================ Chapter 4


   CONCLUSIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:1

Networked computer systems offer tremendous potential for
streamlining and improving the efficiency of Defense operations. 
However, they also greatly increase the risks that information
systems supporting critical Defense functions will be attacked.  The
hundreds of thousands of attacks that Defense has already experienced
demonstrate that (1) significant damage can be incurred by attackers
and (2) attacks pose serious risks to national security.  They also
show that top management attention at all levels and clearly assigned
accountability are needed to ensure that computer systems are better
protected.  The need for such attention and accountability is
supported by the Joint Security Commission which considers the
security of information systems and networks to be the major security
challenge of this decade and possibly the next century.  The
Commission itself believes there is insufficient awareness of the
grave risks Defense faces in this arena. 

We recognize that no organization can anticipate all potential
vulnerabilities, and even if one could, it may not be cost-effective
to implement every measure available to ensure protection.  However,
Defense can take some basic steps to vastly improve its position
against attackers.  These steps include strengthening (1) computer
security policies and procedures, (2) security training and staffing,
and (3) detection and reaction programs.  Since the level of
protection varies from installation-to-installation, the need for
corrective measures should be assessed on a case-by-case basis by
comparing the value and sensitivity of information with the cost of
protecting it and by considering the entire infrastructure. 


   RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:2

To better focus management attention on the Department's increasing
computer security threat and to ensure that a higher priority and
sufficient resources are devoted to addressing this problem, we
recommend that at a minimum the Secretary of Defense strengthen the
Department's information systems security program by

  -- developing departmentwide policies for preventing, detecting,
     and responding to attacks on Defense information systems,
     including mandating that (1) all security incidents be reported
     within the Department, (2) risk assessments be performed
     routinely to determine vulnerability to attacks and intrusions,
     (3) vulnerabilities and deficiencies be expeditiously corrected
     as they are identified, and (4) damage from intrusions be
     expeditiously assessed to ensure the integrity of data and
     systems compromised;

  -- requiring the military services and Defense agencies to use
     training and other mechanisms to increase awareness and
     accountability among installation commanders and all personnel
     as to the security risks of computer systems connected to the
     Internet and their responsibility for securing their systems;

  -- requiring information system security officers at all
     installations and setting specific standards for ensuring that
     these as well as system and network managers are given
     sufficient time and training to perform their duties
     appropriately;

  -- continually developing and cost-effectively using departmentwide
     network monitoring and protection technologies; and

  -- evaluating the incident response capabilities within DISA, the
     military services, and the Defense agencies to ensure that they
     are sufficient to handle the projected threat. 

The Secretary should also assign clear responsibility and
accountability within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the
military services, and Defense agencies for ensuring the successful
implementation of this computer security program. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR
   EVALUATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:3

On May 15, 1996, we discussed a draft of this report with officials
from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, DISA, Army, Navy, and
Air Force who are responsible for information systems security.  In
general, these officials agreed with the report's findings,
conclusions, and recommendations.  They stated that the report fairly
represents the increasing threat of Internet attacks on the
Department's computers and networks and acknowledges the actions
Defense is taking to address that threat.  In concurring with our
conclusions and recommendations, Defense officials acknowledged that
with increased emphasis and additional resources, more could be done
to better protect their systems from attack and to effectively detect
and aggressively respond to attacks.  They stressed that
accountability throughout the Department for implementing policy was
as important as the policy itself and that cost-effective technology
solutions should be encouraged, particularly in light of the
increasing sophistication of the future threat. 

Defense officials believe that a large part of the Department's
security problems result from poorly designed systems or the use of
commercial off-the-shelf computer hardware and software products that
have little or no inherent security.  We agree that this is a serious
problem.  They also cited some of the more recent actions being taken
to improve security, such as DISA's information systems security
implementation plan and the Joint Chiefs of Staff instruction on
defensive information warfare.  These are positive steps that will
help focus attention on the importance of information security.  In
this context, it is important that our recommendations be effectively
implemented to ensure that sufficient management commitment,
accountability, priority, and resources are devoted to addressing
Defense's serious information security problems. 

We have incorporated the Department's comments and other points of
clarification throughout the report where appropriate. 


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
=========================================================== Appendix I

ACCOUNTING AND INFORMATION
MANAGEMENT DIVISION, WASHINGTON,
D.C. 

Rona B.  Stillman, Chief Scientist for Computers and
Telecommunications
John B.  Stephenson, Assistant Director
Keith A.  Rhodes, Technical Assistant Director
Kirk J.  Daubenspeck, Evaluator-in-Charge
Patrick R.  Dugan, Auditor
Cristina T.  Chaplain, Communications Analyst

CHICAGO/DAYTON FIELD OFFICE

Robert P.  Kissel, Jr., Senior Evaluator

OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL

Frank Maguire, Senior Attorney


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