Chinese hackers have access to major US weapons designs, report says

Pentagon report accuses Beijing as it is fingered for cybertheft of Australian spy HQ blueprints

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 12:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Chinese hackers have gained access to designs of more than two dozen major United States weapons systems, a US report says. And Australian media said Chinese hackers had stolen the blueprints for Australia's new spy headquarters.

Citing a report prepared for the US Defence Department by the Defence Science Board, The Washington Post said the compromised US designs included those for combat aircraft and ships, as well as missile defences vital for Europe, Asia and the Gulf.

Among the weapons listed in the report were the advanced Patriot missile system, the Navy's Aegis ballistic missile defence systems, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The report did not specify the extent or time of the cyberthefts or indicate if they involved computer networks of the American government, contractors or subcontractors.

China dismissed the report as groundless.

In Australia, a news report said hackers linked to China stole the floor plans of a A$630 million (HK$4.7 billion) headquarters for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the country's domestic spy agency.

The attack through the computers of a building contractor exposed not only building layouts, but also the location of communication and computer networks, it said.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about the Australian report, said China disapproved of hacking.

"Since it is very difficult to find out the origin of hacker attacks, it is very difficult to find out who carried out such attacks. I don't know what the evidence is for media to make such kinds of reports," he said.

Australian security analyst Des Ball said such information about the yet-to-be-completed spy headquarters made it vulnerable to cyberattack.

The ASIO building is designed to be part of an electronic-intelligence-gathering network that includes the United States and Britain.

Its construction has been plagued by delays and cost over-runs, with some builders blaming late design changes on cyberattacks.