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Second defence contractor targeted in RSA SecurID-based hack

L-3 Communications also blames token-based attack...

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Defence giant L-3 Communications has become the second victim of an attempted hack attack that relied on the RSA SecurID hack that took place earlier this year.

A leaked internal memo, obtained by Wired, said that L-3's Stratus group had been actively targeted with attacks based on "leveraging compromised information" from the SecurID keyfob two-factor authentication system. It's unclear whether these attacks succeeded or how L-3 came to pin the blame on RSA's SecurID system. L-3, which supplies command and control systems to the US military, would only say that it takes security seriously and that this particular incident had been resolved, without saying how.

News of the attempted L-3 breach comes days after LockHeed Martin suspended remote access and began re-issuing keyfob tokens following the detection of hacking attacks also linked to the high-profile breach against RSA back in March. The manufacturer of F-22 and F-35 fighter planes confirmed the attempted hack, first reported by tech blogger Robert Cringely, which took place on or around the weekend on 21 May. In a statement, Lockheed confirmed the attempted hack but said that its "systems remain secure; no customer, program or employee personal data has been compromised".

Unidentified hackers broke into RSA network back in March before extracting unspecified information related to SecurID, possibly the seed used to generate one-time codes supplied by its tokens and their associated serial numbers. Armed with this information, an attacker would need only to obtain the PIN a user logs in with in order to gain the same rights to access sensitive information, highly valuable blueprints and more. PIN numbers might be extracted using keylogging Trojans, possibly punted via targeted emails (ie spear phishing).

It may be that Lockheed Martin and L-3 responded after detecting just this type of attack but this is just an educated guess on our part. Pending a clearer statement from RSA on what was taken during the original hack, we can be forgiven for assuming the worst.

RSA has said how it was attacked but not what data was extracted, aside from saying that this "information could potentially be used to reduce the effectiveness of a current two-factor authentication implementation as part of a broader attack". EMC's security division added at the time that it was working with customers to make sure their systems remained secure. ®

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