Missile Defense Secrets Sold on eBay
Another day, another cyber-security concern. In today's episode, a used
computer bought on eBay contained highly sensitive details of a key
U.S. missile system designed by defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
Among the data found on the legally purchased computer were details of
test launch procedures, blueprints of facilities and sensitive personal
data on Lockheed Martin employees.
The discarded data is for a system known as the Terminal High Altitude
Area Defense (THAAD), a U.S. Army project to shoot down ballistic
missiles using a hit-to-kill approach. The project began under former
president Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative in
the 1980s. The computer has been turned over to the FBI.
According to the Guardian,
the computer was purchased as part of a joint research project by three
universities to document the risks of carelessly discarded computer
equipment. The schools involved in the research include Longwood
University in the
United States, Glamorgan University in the United Kingdom and Edith Cowan University in
The Department of Defense's standards for disposal of used computers requires the hard drives be wiped clean.
"From the point of view of espionage, knowing who is working on a project is tremendously useful," Peter Zimmerman, emeritus professor of science and security at the Department of War Studies at London's King's College, told the Guardian. Glenn Dardick, assistant professor of information systems at Longwood University in Virginia, who helped analyze the data on the computer, added to the newspaper, "If this is out there, then it does beg the question: what else is out there?"
Lockheed Martin declined to comment on the issue.