Lockheed Martin's Vice President of Cyber Security Solutions Charles Croom and Chandra McMahon, Vice President of Commercial Markets for Information Systems speaking at a conference in Washington

Lockheed Martin under cyber-siege

US defence giant Lockheed Martin said the number of attacks on its computer systems has quadrupled since 2007.

Speaking at the Reuters Cyber-security Summit in Washington, the company’s vice president Chandra McMahon said that only since January 2014, the firm had to ward off attacks by 43 distinct hacking groups.

The number of cyber-attacks on Lockheed’s systems has been growing steadily – in 2007, ten attacks were detected while three years later it was already 28.

In addition to being Pentagon’s number one weapons supplier, Lockheed Martin is also the most important provider of information technology to the US government. The company’s systems are widely used by the US military, energy companies, utilities and other critical infrastructure firms.

The latter have seen, according to Lockheed Martin, a substantial increase in the number of cyber-attacks in the past years.

"While we haven't seen specific action on objectives in terms of damage, what we have seen over the last several years (is) malware created and deployed to damage critical infrastructure," McMahon said.

Hackers frequently hone their malware while attacking weapon makers to later deploy the same software to steal data from companies in other sectors, disrupt networks and even damage equipment, McMahon said.

The positive thing, according to Lockheed, is that private sector companies have started taking cyber-risks seriously and invest into reinforcing their cyber-defence.  

Lockheed expects double-digit growth in its cyber business, which now accounts for 10 per cent of revenues in the $8bn (£4.77bn) information systems sector.

Lockheed and other US weapons makers are frequent targets of criminal groups, nation states and other hackers seeking to extract valuable information about high-end weapons systems.

US intelligence reports have cited attacks launched by groups in Iran, China, Russia and North Korea. Lockheed declined comment on any specifics about the campaigns it had identified.

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