A mobile internet network used by the US Army in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa contains cybersecurity vulnerabilities, the details about which surfaced in combat testing. The network, that costs $12bn (£8.3bn), is said to be the latest defense system to have vulnerabilities.

TWarfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 provides on-the-move network capability, a mobile infrastructure by employing military and commercial satellite connectivity and line-of-sight (terrestrial) radios and antennas to achieve end-to-end connectivity and dynamic networking operations. The network is deployed to 11 of the Army's combat brigades. Frank Kendall, chief of the Defense Department's acquisitions, approved the production in June.

The Army and contractor General Dynamics Corporation are currently working together to improve the systems and embed updates into the mobile networks that are scheduled to be deployed through 2028, states a Bloomberg report.

Paul Mehney, an Army spokesperson, noted in an email that Johns Hopkins University and the Army Research Laboratory who have conducted the assessment, "recommended both improvements to user training techniques and procedures and hardware and software enhancement to harden against cyberthreat".

Mystery security bugs

In March, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), in its annual review of major weapons programmes, said that Kendall directed an independent assessment of the mobile network in 2015 as "cybersecurity vulnerabilities reduced the program's operational capability and could incur growth cost and schedule delays if significant changes are necessary".

The GAO, although, did not disclose details about how to gain access to the system or how can it be attacked. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's director of operational testing said the vulnerability in the network poses a difficult challenge as it is "dependent upon the cyberdefense capabilities of all mission command systems".

Carol Smith, a spokeswoman for the Falls Church said, "General Dynamics Mission Systems is supporting the Army's efforts" to improve cybersecurity "to address the constantly changing threat environment."