A report from the U.S. Pentagon has confirmed that a cyber attack against one of its defence contractors, allowed a group of as yet unidentified hackers to steal 24,000 government files.

Speaking to the Washington Post Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III clarified that the attack happened in March this year and was enacted by hackers operating outside of the U.S.

The spokeman later stated that the attack is believed to have stemmed from an "an unidentified foreign government". The exact nature of the files taken was not revealed, though Lynn did state that the attack isn't the first the U.S. has suffered.

Lynn later added that in previous attacks it had lost a range of data types, "including aircraft avionics, surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems, and network security protocols."

Lynn went on to add his belief that the cyber threat hackers pose would only grow commenting: "It is a significant concern that over the past decade, terabytes of data have been extracted by foreign intruders from corporate networks of defense companies."

Since the rise in cyber threats reached the public eye, the Pentagon has developed a new defence strategy. The new initiative highlighted five key steps to combat future cyber threats:

    • Strategic Initiative 1: Treat cyberspace as an operational domain to organize, train, and equip so that DoD can take full advantage of cyberspace's potential.
    • Strategic Initiative 2: Employ new defense operating concepts to protect DoD networks and systems.
    • Strategic Initiative 3: Partner with other U.S. government departments and agencies and the private sector to enable a whole-of-government cybersecurity strategy.
    • Strategic Initiative 4: Build robust relationships with U.S. allies and international partners to strengthen collective cybersecurity.
    • Strategic Initiative 5: Leverage the nation's ingenuity through an exceptional cyber workforce and rapid technological innovation. (Source).

The call for a united response to cyber crime mirrors that of several other countries. Last month the U.K. expressed a similar sentiment calling for a global reaction to cyber crime and hacking.

The news comes just as hacking collectives such as the now infamous Anonymous continues its AntiSec campaign against the world.

The group is not currently thought to have played a part in the attack. The group has a track record of publicising its attacks in order to promote the specific cause it's supporting.

The fact that no hacker group or collective has yet stepped forward is one of the chief reasons why the U.S. and the majority of analysts believe the attack was most likely carried out by a hostile foreign government.