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Pentagon Hacked, But Joint Strike Fighter Safe

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 37 comments

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.

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  • 14 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2009 4:14 PM
    Makes you wonder how you don't see terabytes of information leaving a network to the outside.. Don't get me wrong I realize its a large federal program with many people working on it but still.. Terabytes of information should of shown up somewhere. Our government seems to be behind on the cyberwar these days.
  • 13 Hide
    ispyamoose , April 21, 2009 4:38 PM
    Why would the government even connect computers with sensitive data to the web? That's just plain stupid, especially when you know that there are vulnerabilities.
  • 13 Hide
    marokero , April 21, 2009 4:26 PM
    Great, now we'll have "Made in China" F-22 Raptor knock offs for half the price, but with lead and melamine contaminants ;) 
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2009 4:13 PM
    I'd be willing to guess that the h4x0rz used the same backdoors that Microsoft leaves for the NSA. I can't help but think if they'd used Linux, that this wouldn't have happened.
  • 14 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2009 4:14 PM
    Makes you wonder how you don't see terabytes of information leaving a network to the outside.. Don't get me wrong I realize its a large federal program with many people working on it but still.. Terabytes of information should of shown up somewhere. Our government seems to be behind on the cyberwar these days.
  • 6 Hide
    greliu , April 21, 2009 4:17 PM
    scary stuff man... its about time tho that the U.S. steps up the game on internet security and traffic tho.
  • 1 Hide
    tenor77 , April 21, 2009 4:19 PM
    Quote:
    The WSJ reports that the intruders entered through vulnerabilities in the networks of two or three contractors helping to build the jet


    This time it wasn't the gov't that screwed up.
  • 13 Hide
    marokero , April 21, 2009 4:26 PM
    Great, now we'll have "Made in China" F-22 Raptor knock offs for half the price, but with lead and melamine contaminants ;) 
  • 3 Hide
    marokero , April 21, 2009 4:28 PM
    Sorry, I meant Joint Strike Fighter knock offs... :p 
  • 2 Hide
    sanctoon , April 21, 2009 4:28 PM
    It's only scare tactics, now they can justify it when they give Obama the orders to shut down the net.
  • 7 Hide
    sanctoon , April 21, 2009 4:30 PM
    Oh, btw gotta love the Spy vs. Spy pic
  • 13 Hide
    ispyamoose , April 21, 2009 4:38 PM
    Why would the government even connect computers with sensitive data to the web? That's just plain stupid, especially when you know that there are vulnerabilities.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2009 4:52 PM
    China is planning war in the middle east as soon as USA leaves.
    I think a lot has to do with their overpopulation and search for newer grounds to get (even) more resources.

    Anyone seen China has a military army of over 200 Million heads?
  • 1 Hide
    IzzyCraft , April 21, 2009 5:16 PM
    tenor77This time it wasn't the gov't that screwed up.

    Oh i bet they are getting a stern talking to about security. I think i remember reading that the CIA's usb ports are cemented over to prevent usb vulnerablities lol.
  • 5 Hide
    hellwig , April 21, 2009 5:18 PM
    ispyamooseWhy would the government even connect computers with sensitive data to the web? That's just plain stupid, especially when you know that there are vulnerabilities.


    Sounds like its a contractors fault, but again, why? I've worked on sensitive (but not secret) projects before, you take measures against this sort of thing.

    I want to know how their IT department didn't notice TERABYTES of data being sent outside the network. Even with an OC-192 (10Gbps) backbone that would take a few minutes, considering they probably have a far slower connection, and that data eithre took years to copy or someone wasn't paying attention.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2009 6:16 PM
    "It's only scare tactics, now they can justify it when they give Obama the orders to shut down the net."

    @sanctoon

    You sir have just hit the preverbal nail on the head. Interesting how these things just seem to work so well together...and happening around the same time period. I just cannot believe our luck to be living in such wonderful times.
  • 1 Hide
    ispyamoose , April 21, 2009 6:18 PM
    hellwigSounds like its a contractors fault, but again, why? I've worked on sensitive (but not secret) projects before, you take measures against this sort of thing.I want to know how their IT department didn't notice TERABYTES of data being sent outside the network. Even with an OC-192 (10Gbps) backbone that would take a few minutes, considering they probably have a far slower connection, and that data eithre took years to copy or someone wasn't paying attention.


    Yeah, not noticing terabytes of data leaving the network is the result of poor management. I agree that it probably took a long time for them to get the data.
  • -1 Hide
    zipzoomflyhigh , April 21, 2009 6:24 PM
    The Chinese are getting good at cyber warfare. They want to be able to shut down all out internet/satellite capability, which would render our military useless.
  • -1 Hide
    scryer_360 , April 21, 2009 6:25 PM
    What I don't get is how they were stealing TERABYTES. A few here seem to of mentioned that: even if they were on a direct fiber network, it'd still take several minutes to pull half that amount of data. What kind of lax security do we have going here that they could get even a single terabyte?

    And this just proves one thing: the US Government needs to stop running Windows.
  • -1 Hide
    sacmo , April 21, 2009 6:40 PM
    zip u are a moron, no offense, but our military would not be useless if that happend kid, lol but nice try on thinking u know what u are talking about.
  • 2 Hide
    g-thor , April 21, 2009 6:45 PM
    They "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". So if China is so cyber-advanced, how come they couldn't mask themselves and cover their tracks? Seems sloppy for this level of espionage. Maybe someone else wants China blamed?

    The games governments play leave us common folk wondering about everything. One thing is sure. If any government is involved, hang onto your wallet.
  • 0 Hide
    bigpoppastuke , April 21, 2009 6:47 PM
    Im sorry bout the goverment would never use a windows based operating system with access to the internet. Theres too many backdoors and exploits for windows to keep any information safe. Im sure they have their own modified version of Unix or something they created themselves.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 21, 2009 6:47 PM
    Just you watch this is all a play. The next step the government is going to take is Federal internet regulation just you watch. Can't wait to be told what sites I can and can't visit, and what I can and can't download...

    Paranoid, yes. Wrong, God I hope so...
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