Categories: Security

Leaked NSA Documents Detail Chinese Theft Of US Fighter Plans

Chinese spies stole “many terabytes of data” relating to the US’ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as other top-secret US military projects, according to confidential documents released to German magazine Der Spiegel by former National Security Administration (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

The theft of the fighter plans was reported in 2013, but this is the first time that the incident has been confirmed by top-secret documents from within the US government itself.

The incident is detailed in an NSA assessment of Chinese cyber-spying activity on US targets, an edited version of which Der Spiegel released on Saturday along with other documents detailing the US’ cyber-espionage activities against both its rivals and its allies.

According to the leaked NSA assessment, Chinese spies stole documents that detail the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II’s radar systems, engine schematics and methods for cooling exhaust gases.

The theft has previously been reported to have taken place at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in 2007.

Chinese hackers breached carried out more than 500 “significant intrusions” into US Defence Department systems in a single year, with damage assessment and remediation efforts costing more than $100m (£66m), according to the leaked NSA documents.

50 terabytes of data stolen

These operations, collectively code-named “Byzantine Hades”, resulted in the theft of information relating to the B-2 stealth bomber, the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, nuclear submarine and naval air-defence missile designs, and tens of thousands of military personnel records, according to the leaked documents.

They estimate the total amount of data stolen at 50 terabytes, or “five Libraries of Congress”.

The Chinese government dismissed the allegations contained in the NSA documents, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman calling them “completely unjustified”.

The documents also discuss the NSA’s infiltration of North Korea’s computer systems with the aid of South Korea. Unnamed US officials told the New York Times in a report published on Sunday that this spying programme provided data that helped the US conclude North Korea was responsible for the hack of Sony Pictures in November.

Are you a security pro? Try our quiz!

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Recent Posts

Amazon Alexa Recovers After Morning Outage

Alexa wake up alarm didn't work this morning? Smart lights didn't turn on? Outage of…

22 hours ago

UK, Australia Reach Cyber, Critical Tech Agreement

Australia says it will 'fight back' against nation state cyberattacks, after agreements with the UK…

23 hours ago

Italian Regulator Recalculates Apple, Amazon Fines

Italian regulator admits it has redetermined the fines against Apple and Amazon, over the sale…

2 days ago

Red Cross ‘Appalled’ As Hackers Steal Humanitarian Data Of 515,000 People

A new low. International Committee of the Red Cross shuts down reunification system, after hackers…

2 days ago

Russia Proposes Ban On Cryptocurrencies, Crypto Mining

Russia's central bank has this week proposed the banning on the use and mining of…

2 days ago