In the wake of a 2010 incident in which the Air Force lost contact with 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles, the service is figuring out how to protect its command-and-control systems from cyber attack, a nonexistent threat when the missiles were designed decades ago.
It's really important. It's a problem that about a year ago we were seized with. We have done some pretty comprehensive studies of the cyber-state of our ICBM force. We are confident in it, said Chambers. There was an issue: we had a temporary interruption in our ability to monitor one of our missile squadrons back in the fall of 2010. That produced a need to take a comprehensive look at the entire system. It took a year to do that study, and we're confident that the system is good, but as we upgrade it, modernize it, integrate it, we've got to really pay attention to protecting nuclear command-and-control information.
A key part of protecting nuclear weapons from cyber attack as they are modernized and upgraded is making sure that the supply chain for nuclear weapons electronics is secure, a problem that has plagued the Defense Department for years. We are continuing to study the cyber assurance aspect of the supply chain that supports our nuclear weapons systems, said Chambers. That work is underway and we're taking steps to mitigate and close off any vulnerabilities. This effort is focused on making sure that Defense Department officials know exactly where the electronic chips and other components used in nuclear command and control come from and how they are produced.
That's not just our problem, that's a national problem, added Chambers, referring to the fact that the entire DoD is concerned about counterfeit electronic parts making their way into its supply chains. Such parts are at best, potentially unreliable and at worst could be infected with malware aimed at U.S. military gear.
Source: Foreign Policy, http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/25/keeping_nukes_safe_from_cyber_attack