Pentagon Hacked, But Joint Strike Fighter Safe
Spies have hacked into the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program ever, the $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project.
According to the Wall Street Journal, government officials familiar with the attacks have said that recent, similar activities have also breached the Air Force’s air-traffic control system. Reports say the hackers were unable to obtain the most sensitive data about the Joint Strike Fighter project, which is stored on computers not connected to the web. However, they did manage steal several terabytes of data detailing design and electronics systems.
Despite not getting their hands on the most important information about the jet, from what we can gather, these cyber-spies did alright for themselves. The WSJ reports that the intruders entered through vulnerabilities in the networks of two or three contractors helping to build the jet and goes on to cite Lockheed Martin as the lead contractor on the program, with Northrop Grumman Corp. and BAE Systems PLC playing major roles in the development. The WSJ says Northrop referred questions to Lockheed, and Lockheed and BAE refused to comment.
So who’s behind the whole thing? While it’s not 100 percent certain yet, people seem to be pointing the finger at China. According to the report, investigators have traced the breaches back with a "high level of certainty" to known Chinese IPs, and a Pentagon report released in March detailed the progress China was making in online-warfare techniques, claiming China was trying to compensate for an under-developed military. The WSJ quotes Chinese officials calling the Pentagon's report "a product of the Cold War mentality," and said the allegations of cyber espionage are lies designed to "fan up China threat sensations."
Check out the full report (including excerpts from the Pentagon report) here. Hacking and data theft aside, the fact that no one is saying anything to anyone about the attacks is pretty scary and we’re uttering a huge sigh of relief that the most sensitive data pertaining to the project was kept far away from a net connection.