Image by Getty Images via Daylife There is a part of cyberwarfare that is more dangerous than shutting down networks and government sites. It can directly affect the lives soldiers and their families. The Washington Post published this morning a troubling story about the tens of thousands of US soldiers whose personal information – and the information of their families – has been stolen from P2P networks by hackers in countries like China and Pakistan. This data includes social security numbers, phone numbers, email address as well as the names of their family members of soldiers including Special Forces.
"These guys are operating behind lines, and they are absolutely in the deepest part of the fight," said James Mulvenon of the security consulting firm Defense Group.
"The fact that the documents have the names and addresses of the families and all the pressures that could be put to bear on them, it's a nightmare," Mulvenon said.
As well as being used to retaliate against soldiers, the information can also be used by hackers to pose as military personal, giving them access to highly sensitive military and government data.
Most people who use P2P networks to download media do not know that any information on their computer is at risk. While the Army and Penatgon have both imposed policies prohibiting the use of P2P networks, these policies are not often enforced.
"Every company, agency and defense contractor will say that they have a policy against P2P on company-owned equipment and blocking, usually through intrusion detection," Mulvenon said.
"The fact remains that these documents are still going out," Mulvenon said.
The personnel responsible for the leaks have been identified and punished, Army spokesperson Carol Darby said.
"The unit now has measures in place to reduce the chances of this happening again," Darby said.