At Boeing Co.’s cyber operations center in St. Louis, a flashing 54-inch computer screen warns of modern-day burglars and spies. In an hour’s time one morning this spring, Boeing’s elaborate detection system logged 3,722 suspicious efforts to gain access to the company’s global computer network. Boeing analysts worked swiftly with company cybersleuths at other locations to secure the network and identify would-be intruders. Lockheed Martin Corp. operates similar security intelligence centers in Maryland and Colorado, breaking down attacks into phases it calls the “kill chain.” The new head of the U.S. Cyber Command said this month that Pentagon systems are attacked 250,000 times an hour, or 6 million times a day. Hackers are trying to steal everything from intellectual property to personal financial information — or perhaps they hope to cripple systems in “denial of service” attacks. “It’s an enormous problem that has been creeping up on us,” said a government computer scientist who develops security guidelines for federal agencies and government contractors. Boeing’s chief information security officer points to an increasing number of attacks, including phishing e-mails to employees that appeared to be coming from friends and family. She said the company decided to turn off e-mail access to anyone without a smart card to access its system.

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