The contract, one of the largest civilian cybersecurity orders in years, would help more than 100 federal civilian agencies protect their networks against malicious hackers, and it comes after the Office of Personnel Management suffered one of the most damaging breaches in history.
The OPM recently said that hackers stole the fingerprints of 5.6 million people, far more than previously thought. The attacks are believed to have affected more than 21 million former and current government employees, whose personal information, including Social Security numbers and information used in security clearances, may have been compromised.
The Obama administration has said it has made cybersecurity a top priority, and Congress has pushed to expand the nation’s defenses and make them more robust. The Pentagon is also taking steps to develop ways to fend off hackers, who often only have to find one crack in a network, while defenders have to guard the entire wall.
At a hearing on cybersecurity Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that in the past year, Iran, North Korea, China and Russia have all launched cyberattacks on the United States. And he said the rate of the attacks has increased, “crippling or severely disrupting networks across the government and private sector and compromising sensitive national security information.”
He added: “Far more needs to be done to develop the necessary capabilities to deter attacks, fight and win in cyberspace.”