Chinese Hackers Steal F-35 Data from BAE Systems (Picture: The Coming Crisis)

Image: The Coming Crisis

The Australian reports today that the rumors surrounding the potential theft of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter data from BAE Systems by Chinese spies in 2009 should be taken with more than a grain of salt.

This author suggest an old-school approach involving safes and paper instead of data servers. Major defense manufacturers must learn to protect their data better than this:

CHINESE spies hacked into computers belonging to BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence company, to steal details about the design, performance and electronic systems of the West’s latest fighter jet, senior security figures have disclosed.

The Chinese exploited vulnerabilities in BAE’s computer defences to steal vast amounts of data on the $300 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a multinational project to create a plane that will give the West air supremacy for years to come, according to the sources.

The hacking attack has prompted fears that the fighter jet’s advanced radar capabilities could have been compromised.

Details of the attack on BAE have been a closely guarded secret within Britain’s intelligence community since it was first uncovered nearly three years ago. But they were disclosed by a senior BAE executive during a private dinner in London for cyber security experts late last year.

One of those present said: “The BAE man said that for 18 months, Chinese cyber attacks had taken place against BAE and had managed to get hold of plans of one of its latest fighters.”

BAE said: “We don’t comment on allegations of cyber attacks against the company. BAE Systems’ own cyber security capability can detect, prevent and rectify such attacks.”

A former US official, speaking last week on condition of anonymity, said the BAE Systems element of the JSF program had “almost certainly” been penetrated.

However, he cautioned: “There are lots of aspects of weapons development. At least some aspects of it (the F-35 project) were targeted successfully by the Chinese. They didn’t steal everything that was on that airplane, just some aspects.”

The Chinese embassy in London described the claims as a “baseless allegation”.

It said China condemned all forms of online crime.

Suspicions that the Joint Strike Fighter had been targeted by Chinese hackers first emerged in the US media in 2009. (Source: The Australian)

It’s nice knowing that China will have a good working knowledge of the various technologies employed in the likely aircraft of its regional neighbors, even if the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is unable to employ them directly into their own aircraft designs, but with the F-35 project having had such a wide array of international companies involved in its design, as well as its role as a readily exportable design, this would have happened sooner or later.

As stated in previous posts, the US’s stance on a wide net for exportation indicates either a heavy disregard for these secrets falling into hostile hands or a desperate need for sales abroad (or both). It continually appears that the US isn’t overly worried about the F-35′s technology falling into the wrong hands, at least eventually…

…though 2009 remains a nice head start for China.

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Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch