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Lockheed and DoD say no classified data was stolen

Yesterday, DailyTech reported that files relating to the F-35 Lightning II jet fighter had allegedly been compromised by cyberspies. The alleged compromise of data is said to have occurred on the computer systems of a sub-contractor on the project and could have been compromised as early as 2007.

According to Reuters, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin Corp discounted the reports made yesterday by the Wall Street Journal that cyberspies had been able to infiltrate and steal secrets of the aircraft.

DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "I'm not aware of any specific concerns." Whitman made the statement after the Wall Street Journal report alleged that terabytes of data on the F-35's design and electronics had been stolen. The alleged cyber intrusion of the computer systems in question reportedly originated from Chinese IP addresses.

Reuters reports that the intrusions into the protected computer systems and the data stolen could make it easier for enemies to defend against the F-35's capabilities. The U.S. isn’t the only government looking to purchase the aircraft for its military. Other investors in the project include Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, and Norway. Israel is also said to be considering purchasing the jet.

The hallmark of the F-35 is its radar-evading design that makes the plane difficult to see by enemy radar. Lockheed Martin, the primary contractor on the project said, "We actually believe the Wall Street Journal was incorrect in its representation of successful cyber attacks on the F-35 program."

Lockheed Martin CFO Bruce Tanner said, "I've not heard of that, and to our knowledge there's never been any classified information breach." Tanner did acknowledge that attempted intrusions into Lockheed Martin computer systems were continuous and that there are stringent protections in place to defend against these attacks.

This is not the first time allegations of stolen data nave plagued the F-35 project. Last October, an internal Pentagon agency withdrew a complaint that alleged sensitive information relating to the F-35 had been breached by cyberspies. The inspector general's office said that it was unable to provide sufficient appropriate evidence to support the report it had filed claiming data had been breached.

Such cyber attacks are certain to continue occurring as foreign governments try to glean secrets about ongoing U.S. military projects. The Defense Science Board, and advisory panel to the DoD, said, "[The DoD] is not yet organized, trained, equipped or in many cases adequately focused on threats to cyberspace-enabled operations."

A Chinese embassy spokesperson didn’t return calls for comment on the alleged Chinese infiltration of the computer systems reports Reuters.

Once the project is complete, the U.S. military will purchase 2,334 of the F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.





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