China suspected of stealing sensitive data on F-35 stealh planes from Oz
SENSITIVE data about Australia’s F-35 stealth fighter and P-8 surveillance aircraft programmes were stolen when a defence subcontractor was hacked using a tool widely used by Chinese cyber criminals, officials said Thursday.
The 50-person aerospace engineering firm was compromised in July last year but the national cyber security agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), only became aware of the breach in November, technology website ZDNet Australia reported.
Some 30GB of “sensitive data” subjected to restricted access under the US government’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations rules were stolen, ASD’s Mitchell Clarke told a security conference Wednesday according to ZDNet.
The hackers used a tool called “China Chopper” which according to security experts is widely used by Chinese actors, and had gained access via an internet-facing server, he said.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told reporters in Adelaide “the information they have breached is commercial”.
“It is not classified and it is not dangerous in terms of the military,” he said.
However, he did not comment on who might be behind the breach.
Western governments have long accused hackers in China of plundering industrial, corporate and military secrets.