Eurofighter Maker EADS Attacked – Chinese Hackers Blamed

eurofighter eads military aircraft plane defence © Graham Taylor Shutterstock

Chinese hackers are behind an attack on the Eurofighter-maker, sources say

Government-backed hackers from China have been blamed once again, this time for an attack on EADS, the maker of the Eurofighter, and German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp.

EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company, and ThyssenKrupp were targetted by hacking attacks orgininating in China, according to Der Spiegel, which cited unidentified sources within both companies as its sources.

eurofighter eads military aircraft plane defence  © Micha Klootwijk Shutterstock

China Blamed

The latest alleged attacks are potentially very serious indeed, as EADS is a major defence player in Europe that is responsible for the Eurofighter, which the RAF uses as its principle air superiority fighter.

The company also makes military drones, spy satellites and even the rockets for French nuclear weapons. It is also responsible for the Airbus, which means that hacking into its systems and gaining sensitive data and blueprints could potentially have very damaging military and civilian consequences.

According to the Der Spiegel article, firewalls at the defence firm have been subjected to attacks by hackers for years now. But now company officials reportedly said there was “a more conspicuous” attack a few months ago, one that seemed so important to EADS managers that they chose to report it to the German government.

ThyssenKrupp was likewise targeted by an attack it described with “previously unheard of vehemence.” The “massive” attempt infiltrate its corporate network was also apparently of “a special quality”, forcing executives to notify German authorities.

ThyssenKrupp told Spiegel that the attack had occurred “locally in the United States,” but said that the attacks were linked to Internet addresses in China.

“Seventy percent of all major German companies are threatened or affected” by cyber attacks, Stefan Kaller, the head of the department in charge of cyber security at the German Interior Ministry was reported as saying at the European Police Congress last week. “The overwhelming number of attacks on government agencies that are detected in Germany stem from Chinese sources,” Kaller was quoted as saying at the meeting.

China is currently under the spotlight for cyber criminality, after security company Mandiant claimed the People’s Liberation Army was involved in hacking attacks on Western organisations.

The Chinese government followed its usual policy of angrily denying the allegations, but then curiously argued that IP addresses pointing to China had been “hijacked”, and then also went on to dispute the legal definitions of what constitutes a cyber attack.

National Security

China has long stood accused of being behind many cyber attacks, although it has repeatedly denied the accusations. In 2011 for example, the US Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive warned that Russia and China were the “most aggressive collectors” of US economic and technology secrets.

And in August 2011, F-Secure spotted actual video proof of Chinese hacking when it saw footage of Chinese military systems hacking a US target. The footage of that alleged hack was seen during a Chinese military TV documentary.

Last May, Major General Jonathan Shaw, the head of the UK’s military cyber security operation, admitted that top secret systems belonging to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been breached by hackers, with a number of “serious incidents” hitting the department. Shaw had previously warned that hacking by foreign governments and corporations is regularly putting companies out of business.

The Pentagon and American defence firms including Lockheed Martin, L-3 Communications and Northrop Grumman have previously been hacked, as has Japanese defence contractors.

Indeed, the problem has now got so bad that some are openly calling for a full scale cyber war against China, whilst others argue how to better engage online with China.

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