Halfway through a 90-day trial, the Department of Defense says it has stopped hundreds of attempted intrusions it would have missed otherwise without its pilot program of sharing classified information about cyber threats with military contractors.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III says the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot, which involves 20 contractors, has been so successful that it may be expanded to the entire U.S. industrial base.

Through such sharing the military hopes to protect strategic information stored in contractors' networks and maintain a technology lead over adversaries, Lynn says about the program that launched in May.

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Lynn gave an update on the program at Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) meeting in Baltimore.

"We rely on private-sector networks and services to operate nearly every facet of the department," Lynn says. "We realize that we must help our partners protect their networks."

The program is voluntary and participation will be extended to the rest of the industrial base in coming months, he says.

The trial so far involves only defense contractors and their ISPs who use information gathered by the military to protect their private networks.

Lynn says malicious-code signatures have been shared with participants, who incorporate them into their existing defenses. "In this way, the DIB Cyber Pilot builds off existing capabilities that are widely deployed through the commercial sector," he says.

Meanwhile, the DoD is facing budget cuts just as its cyber responsibilities are ramping up. So in addition to creating better cyber defenses, IT within the department will be called on to run operations more cost effectively, he says.

"Deploying new IT approaches has the potential to be a big money saver," Lynn says. "For instance, cloud computing holds potential to reduce IT costs across the enterprise."

He says consolidating data centers will drive further savings. He says DoD has closed eight data centers already and plans to close another 44 by the end of FY2011.

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