AP: The Navy is investigating how an unauthorized user in Iran gained online access to blueprints and other information about a helicopter in President Barack Obama's fleet.
The Associated Press
By DONNA BORAK
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Navy is investigating how an unauthorized user in Iran gained online access to blueprints and other information about a helicopter in President Barack Obama's fleet.
Employees at data monitoring firm Tiversa last week discovered that potentially sensitive information about the helicopter had been viewed by a "malicious" source in Iran, company spokesman Scott Harrer said Monday.
Tiversa late last year notified a Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor that there was an "open window" in their network leaking information about the helicopter. But the first known breach came last week by an Iranian source who had been actively trying to harvest sensitive information, Harrer said.
Lockheed Martin Corp., which is headquartered in Bethesda and manufacturing a new fleet of presidential helicopters, is not the source of the leak, Harrer said. But he declined to identify Tiversa's client, or the source of the leak.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the information accessed about the aircraft is unclassified, and the president does not ride in that specific helicopter.
Cranberry Township, Pa.-based Tiversa monitors peer-to-peer file sharing networks for government agencies and large enterprises. Most people use such file sharing to enjoy movies and music.
Tiversa immediately notified the government after discovering someone had accessed information about the president's helicopter, Harrer said, adding that the company also alerted federal officials of the "open window" in October.
Navy spokesman Lt. Clayton Doss said the service was aware of media reports of a "security breach" on the presidential helicopter program and that it is "looking into the matter."
It appears the Navy was made aware of the issue even months before Tiversa said it alerted the government of its initial findings. The service called for its own internal review in June, but found that documents the private company had discovered "were not particularly sensitive" and that the risk of someone exploiting the data was "very low."
Doss said even though the helicopter's data was "relatively dated" and "poses no significant impact,…this information should not have been made available on the Internet or placed in the public domain."
United Technologies Co.'s Sikorsky Aircraft built the White House's current fleet of 19 helicopters. Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said the Stratford, Conn.-based company is conducting its own investigation.
Lockheed is working under a multibillion-dollar contract to replace the helicopters, known as Marine One whenever the president is on board. Sikorsky's fleet is more than 30 years old, and several have broken down on presidential trips.
But lawmakers have been reviewing cost overuns on the new helicopters amid tough budget decisions. Obama said last week the helicopter he has now seems "perfectly adequate," adding that he never had one before and didn't see a need for a more costly aircraft.
However, Obama may have no choice but to spend billions on a new fleet, as military analysts say what is most worrisome is that the current fleet does not meet the communication and protection needs of the White House. The new helicopters are expected to be similar to Air Force One, and will be outfitted with communications equipment, anti-missile defenses and hardened hulls.
Lockheed spokesman Troy Scully said the company is aware of data breach reports, and has been told by Tiversa that it is "not the source of the reported information" nor does it involve the new fleet of helicopters it is building.