Chinese hackers compromise critical US defense systems

Eva Cover Contributor
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Chinese hackers have compromised more than 24 critical defense programs, gaining access to plans for some of the most expensive, advanced military technologies under development by U.S. contractors or already utilized by the U.S., The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

In a confidential report compiled for Pentagon officials, the Defense Science Board, a committee of experts that advises the Department of Defense, did not accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs, but The Post cited “senior military and industry officials with knowledge of the breaches” who pointed to China’s role.

According to the report, designs for systems intended to neutralize enemy ballistic missiles, including the Patriot missile system (PAC-3), the Aegis ballistic-missile defense, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), have all been compromised.

Chinese hackers also targeted the U.S. advanced jets and helicopters, including the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter, the F/A-18 jet and the expensive crown jewel of areal defense, the F-35B multi-role fighter jet.

While U.S. government officials have not said whether the cyber-attack was carried out by the Chinese government, corporate or civilian entities, previous attacks on US and other foreign systems speak to a pattern of electronic intrusion by the Chinese.

Following the Defense Science Board’s report, Australian media outlets alleged that the Chinese stole blueprints for the state-of-the-art Australian spy agency headquarters. If these reports prove true, the hacks would allow the Chinese to access the location of servers as well as communication and security systems within the building.

As reported by the Guardian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded to allegations of cyber-espionage and theft, “China pays high attention to cybersecurity issues, and is firmly apposed to all forms of hacker attacks.”

However, a history of Chinese attacks against U.S. systems would say otherwise.

The attacks on US defense systems and the alleged theft of Australian blueprints, are reminiscent of the 2004 Chinese cyber-attacks labeled “Titan Rain” by US federal investigators. According to an article in Time magazine, “Titan Rain” composed consecutive attacks against US security organizations and military contractors, including Lockheed Martin. Hackers accessed hundreds of computers within a 24-hour window in order to collect classified data and military intel.

Attacks such as “Titan Rain” and the most recent invasions into defense programs not only lessen US contractor’s competitive edge, but also weaken the U.S.’s military position relative to other developing powers.

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