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Pentagon: Private Networks Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

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Privately-owned U.S. computer networks remain vulnerable to cyber attacks, and many U.S. companies are not doing enough to protect them, Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Wednesday.

"I hope this isn't one of those situations where we won't do what we need to do until we get slammed," Carter told the annual Air Force Association conference.

Attacks on American computer infrastructure by other countries and criminal gangs have soared in recent years, according to U.S. government officials. Efforts to pass legislation to strengthen U.S. cyber security have met obstacles such as privacy issues.

Carter said the Pentagon was doing all it could to protect its own networks and develop offensive cyber weapons, but shoring up the nation's overall cyber infrastructure -- much of which is privately held -- was far more challenging.

"When it comes to the nation's networks there are many other forces and considerations that make it very complicated, and therefore very slow, and I'm concerned that it's moving too slowly," he told Reuters after his remarks at the conference.

"We're still vulnerable and the pace is not adequate," Carter told the conference, noting that many private companies either did not invest or invested too little in cyber security.

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