Washington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & Security
Washington, DC 20001

According to a congressional watchdog study, the Department of Defense is making substantial progress in securing key networks in the face of cyber assaults from foreign enemies seeking intel.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the department had 70 percent or higher compliance in implementing four select safeguards for controlled unclassified information as of January, which could include data related to critical technologies or the development and operation of weapons and defense infrastructure.

Pentagon networks hold vast quantities of data and are always under assault from adversaries such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is heightening fears about US cybersecurity, as federal authorities and other experts warn of Moscow’s hostile cyber past and reach in the digital sphere. A breach of CUI systems, as well as broad transmission or theft of the information, might pose serious security dangers to the United States.

“Safeguarding government computer systems has long been a problem,” the GAO noted in a report to congressional committees on May 19. “We have placed cybersecurity on our high-risk list since 1997, emphasizing the gravity of this problem.”

The accountability office’s assessment, released on Thursday, determined that, while no organization was entirely compliant with essential CUI cybersecurity criteria, the Pentagon is making progress. From May 2021 to May 2022, the GAO focused on about 2,900 CUI systems, the majority of which are held by the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Defense Health Agency.

The chief information officer, presently John Sherman, is in charge of the department-wide security of CUI systems. In its report, the GAO stated that the information office “had recently taken action to remedy” the deficiencies and that the department has maintained track of progress.

“As noted within the report, the Department has taken action to work with DoD components to ensure implementation of the appropriate security measures for CUI systems,” Sherman wrote.

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