Chinese government hackers steal trove of U.S. Navy data

Howard TerryJun 10, 2018

Chinese government hackers breached the computer system of a Navy contractor and stole large amounts of sensitive data, The Washington Post reports.

The "highly sensitive data" was held by the contractor in a network of unclassified information, triggering concerns about possibly lax policing of contractor security protections, according to the Post.

Among the stolen data were plans for a supersonic anti-ship missle that was planned to be on US submarines by 2020.

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Britain's Prince Andrew, not pictured, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 29, 2018.

The spokesman said "it would be inappropriate to discuss further details at this time", The Post reported.

In addition, 624 gigabytes of data related to a secretive project dubbed "Sea Dragon", information on cryptographic systems for submarine radio rooms, details about hundreds of mechanical and software systems, and signals and sensor data.

The hackers are believed to have targeted a contractor working for the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre, on Rhode Island.

The last known breach of military secrets conducted by the Chinese government occurred in February, when Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testified before congress that cyber attacks were detected targeting defense contractors or tech firms supporting government networks, according to the Post. It did not provide any specifics on the project, saying it was asked by the Navy to withhold the details from the report, so as not to damage U.S. security further. "The news comes as the Trump administration is seeking to secure Beijing's support in persuading North Korea to give up nuclear weapons, even as tensions persist between the United States and China over trade and defence matters", The Washington Post said.

The breach continues China's longstanding effort to "blunt the US advantage in military technology and become the pre-eminent power in east Asia", the Post reported. Sea Dragon is a $300 million project scheduled for underwater testing in September.

Military experts said the breach signaled that China could be working to complicate the Navy's ability to defend USA allies in Asia amid a conflict with Beijing in the region.

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