HP Lands Air Force Cyber Defense Contract

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HP's won a U.S. Air Force contract for a Cyber Control System (CCS) designed to identify and respond to cyber threats. The relatively modest $9 million, 12-month government contract calls for HP (NYSE: HPQ) to implement the CCS for what the company said is a key part of the Air Force's cyber warfare strategy.

The CCS command and control infrastructure is designed to help Air Force officials make real-time responses and formulate strategies when faced with network intrusions or attacks.

The news comes at a time of heightened awareness of cyber threats following Google's revelation earlier this year that its computer infrastructure, along with those of more than two dozen other companies, was targeted by hackers.

VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) said its investigation led it to believe the attack was the work of hackers associated with or working on behalf of the People's Republic of China.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano told attendees at this year's RSA conference that the U.S. government's security efforts need to "leap frog forward" with systems that are faster and more comprehensive.

At the same RSA conference, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the country's cybersecurity efforts aren't keeping up with cybercrime syndicates. Noting the breadth of attacks by numerous criminal organizations here and abroad, Mueller said U.S. computer systems are suffering "death by a thousand cuts, bleeding data, bit by bit and terabyte by terabyte."

"We're playing cat and mouse and the mouse seems to be ahead most of the time," he said. "We have to make the cost of business too expensive for them."

With this new Air Force contract, HP will be providing infrastructure and applications integration for the construction of the CCS that will include HP's BladeSystem network.

"The U.S. Air Force needs the ability to make critical decisions about networking protection instantaneously using the most accurate information available," Dennis Stolkey, senior vice president, U.S. Public Sector for HP Enterprise Services, said in a statement. "HP’s Cyber Control System is designed specifically for these needs and shows our commitment to innovation in cyber security, as well as the support of the USAF’s mission to ‘Fly, fight and win in air, space and cyber space'."

HP said over time CCS services will be able to carry out automated predictive actions in anticipation of developing threats and share information with other agencies and groups, such as the Air Operation Center, U.S. Cyber Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.