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Morning Brief: U.S. Weapons Systems Designs Hacked, Google Investigated, and More

By Holly Gilbert

► The Washington Post reports that Chinese hackers have breached the designs for some of the United States’ “most sensitive advanced weapons systems,” according to documents prepared by the Defense Science Board for the Pentagon and other government officials and defense industry personnel. That confidential report revealed that the weapon designs that were compromised included “programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships.” Included in the list of hacked weapon systems designs is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is the costliest system ever built, as well as the “advanced Patriot missile system, known as PAC-3; an Army system for shooting down ballistic missiles, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD; and the Navy’s Aegis ballistic-missile defense system.” Several leading defense contractors are on the science board’s list as builders of the weapon systems compromised, but “None of the companies would comment about whether their systems have been breached,” according to the Post. While several attempts to require contractors to secure their networks have failed, the 2013 Defense Authorization Act has a provision “that requires defense contractors holding classified clearances to report intrusions into their networks and allow access to government investigators to analyze the breach."

► The European Commission is busy looking into formal complaints about Google by competitors regarding its search engine as well as the Android operating system. After a three-year investigation looking into claims that Google “squeezed out” competitors like Microsoft in Internet searching, the European Union antitrust chief said that EU regulators will be demanding more concessions from the search engine. According to Reuters, earlier this year Google had submitted proposals to the European Commission in which it offered “to label its own products in Internet search results and make it easier for advertisers to move to rival platforms.” But sites like British price comparison site Foundem and the German online mapping company Hot Maps complained that those labels “would force competitors to compete among themselves, raising their costs and increasing merchants' dependency on Google,” according to the news report. There have also been several complaints filed to the European Commission about Google’s Android operating system, including ones by Microsoft and Nokia which claimed that Google is “blocking competition in mobile telephony.” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said the commission has yet to decide whether or not to open a formal investigation to look into those complaints.

► Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has visited Syria to meet with Rebel leaders, according to NBC News, making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the nation in more than two years. The former Republican presidential nominee is a fierce advocate for increasing the role of the United States in Syria. According to reports, he was told by rebel forces during his visit that chemical weapons have been used against them on occasion. McCain was also told the opposition fighters, who are battling President Bashar Al-Assad’s military forces, “are running out of ammunition and need more advanced weapons to counter Assad.” While the White House declined to comment on the senator’s trip, President Obama has made several public comments denouncing Assad’s legitimacy as a leader, and recent news reports have suggested his administration could be moving toward arming the rebels.

► Elsewhere in the news, HSToday reports that the "Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is looking for armed guard services for disaster facilities in the area of Oklahoma City, Okla., which was struck by a powerful tornado on May 20." The put out a request for proposals Sunday. 
 

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