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F-35, Aegis, PATRIOT Missile, Littoral vessel, Blackhawk chopper, and THAAD are among the compromised programs

The Defense Science Board (DSB) in a new report suggests that Chinese military hackers have compromised one of America's most costly weapons projects -- the nearly $1.4T USD F-35 Joint Strike fighter weapons system.  

I. Why Research When You Can Steal?

In its confidential report for the Pentagon and industry officials -- first revealed by The Washington Post -- the DSB claims that blueprints and data pertaining to two dozen weapons systems -- including U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships -- were accessed by Chinese hackers.  The report, by the mixed civilian/government board, which advises government and corporate policy makers, does not suggest necessarily the Chinese have stolen complete designs.

The U.S. federal government recently expressed the desire to force "help" onto private sector utilities.  However, the report basically indicated that at this point the federal government is incompetent when it comes to cybersecurity when it comes to foreign threats, unable to sufficiently block attacks on itself, let alone others.

Among the other weapons systems accessed by Chinese hackers include:

The nation's most expensive weapon in history -- the F-35 -- has been compromised by Chinese intrusions and may be effectively useless in combat as a result.
[Image Source: Lockheed Martin]

Compromised contractors include:
  • Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)
  • Raytheon Comp. (RTN)
  • Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC)
Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute -- an Asian-centric D.C. think-tank, comments, "[The intrusions are] staggering.  These are all very critical weapons systems, critical to our national security. When I hear this in totality, it’s breathtaking."

II.  Experts Astounded by China's Weapons Progress

China has expressed frustration that its military trails the U.S.'s technologically.  But recently the Asian nation has been shocking observers with its weapons development.  While "experts" expressed skepticism that China would be able to field a stealth fighter, it shocked the world in Jan. 2011 showing off a fully functional design.

Much of the design of the "J-20" stealth fighter is thought to have been stolen from the U.S., though it's unclear whether that was the result of offline subterfuge (analysis of crashed U.S. fighters) or online intrusions.

China's strategy to update its military in the most cost effective manner possible appears to be two-fold.  Some technologies it buys at budget rates from U.S. Cold War-era rivals like Russia -- such as its first aircraft carrier that deployed last year (a retrofitted Russian craft).  Other technologies it simply steals from the U.S. and builds itself.

The hodge-podge approach isn't pretty, but it may prove modestly effective given the size of the nation's military.

China cyberattacks
China's cost-saving approach to defense appears to be partially to steal U.S. technology.
[Image Source: DMM News]

James A. Lewis, a cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), remarks, "You’ve seen significant improvements in Chinese military capabilities through their willingness to spend, their acquisitions of advanced Russian weapons, and from their cyber-espionage campaign.  Ten years ago, I used to call the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] the world’s largest open-air military museum. I can’t say that now."

A frustrated unnamed senior military official told The Washington Post that the Chinese strategy of stealing U.S. technology has allowed it to save billions.  The source comments, "In many cases, they don’t know they’ve been hacked until the FBI comes knocking on their door.  This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China. They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development. It’s nuts."

According to the report, the stolen information could be used not only to make weapons, but also to counter U.S. designs by pinpointing and compromising their digital or physical weaknesses.  Winslow T. Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), comments, "If they got into the combat systems, it enables them to understand it to be able to jam it or otherwise disable it.  If they’ve got into the basic algorithms for the missile and how they behave, somebody better get out a clean piece of paper and start to design all over again."

III. Obama Administration's "Tough Talk" Approach Fails

According to The Washington Post report, sources indicate that a year ago U.S. officials met with top Chinese officials in a closed door meeting to present evidence that they had "caught" China in cyberspying.  The Chinese, unperturbed responded with their usual denials.

Unable to defend itself with cyber-might, the Obama administration has since largely turned its focus to defense via rhetoric.  Following the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD) May 2011 declaration that cyberattacks could be construed as acts of warU.S. National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander delivered testimony on Chinese hacking to the Senate Armed Services Committee.  In his testimony, held March 2012, he claimed that the Chinese were destroying the U.S. economy with hacks.

President Obama bows to the President of China. [Image Source: Reuters]

U.S. President Barack Obama was mostly silent until this year, when a series of Chinese-sourced attacks struck The New York TimesBloombergThe WSJ, and the U.S. Federal Reserve.  Around that same time security officials with the research firm Mandiat finally pinned the attacks on an elite group of PLA hackers -- dubbed Unit 61398 -- which were based out of a government-guarded 12-story white high-rise in Shanghai.  That report was confirmed by government officials earlier this month, which led to China responding that the U.S. was "the real 'hacking empire.'"

Amid the confirmations that the PLA was behind the victimization of the U.S., President Obama responded to these developments with his toughest rhetoric yet, which led to counter-accusations from China.  The tough rhetoric from the Commander-in-chief seemed to work, though; Unit 61398 fell silent for nearly three months from February into May, but recently returned to action.

China's President Xi Jinping and President Obama are expected to meet next month in California; the issue of hacking is expected to be high on the agenda.

IV. Plans for Australian Spy Headquarters Stolen by Chinese

In related news, Chinese hackers have reportedly stolen plans to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization's new $630M AU ($608M USD) headquarters.  The plans were stolen from a contractor and include locations/details of communications cabling, servers, and security systems.

First reported by the Australian Broadcasting Company, Des Ball, an Australian National University cybersecurity expert, suggests that the hack could allow Chinese spies to effectively bug the building.

ASIO Building
The ASIO building [Image Source: AFP]

The spy agency's chief dodged the reports calling them "unsubstantiated", while refusing to definitively confirm or deny if data loss had occurred.  He commented, "This building is a very secure, state-of-the-art facility.  I'm not going to comment on operational matters involving the Australian Security Intelligence Organization or any security matters."

The lakeside glass-and-concrete structure has been plagued with budget overruns and delays.  The structure is located in Canberra, a city in southeastern Australia.

Source: The Washington Post

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Is it really stolen ?
By jmarchel on 5/28/2013 2:59:52 PM , Rating: -1
Why we, Americans think of other nations as bunch of idiots who need to steal our designs to achieve anything ? That is unbeliveably racist and dumb. Wasn't our space program basically made by Germans ? Our atom bomb was designed practically by eurpean scientists. Our Stealth fighter was designed based on the Russian scientist theory of radar waves propagation and deflection. Why in our universities majority of science and engineering teachers barely speak english language and majority of students are of Asian origin ? In Columbia university masters degree math program has practially all Chinese students. We were succefull because we were a producing - manufacturing nation and people were encouraged to study science and engineering and awarded accordingly. It was our industry that created advanced designs, laboratories. We have had knowledge, capital, industry, standard of living and openess second to none to attract brains from all over the world. Both parties failed us miserably. The globalization that was suppose to be good for us is destroying our living standard. Remember Clinton and Bush propaganda of how great it will be for our country ? So now you have it. China don't need to steal anything. We (the West) have build their industry and we sold them knowledge how to produce stuff in exchange for cheap labor. Just ask any engineer who had to work with Chinese suppliers forced by our own industry leaders. Not only we gave them the factories but they also demanded know how and in majority of cases got it because they are smart. No single factory in China is owned by the West. All factories in China are owned at minimum 51% by Chinese company. Yes, Wall Street betrayed us. What was good for Wall Street not only ruined our industry and ruined our middle class but alos most liklely ruined out future and leadership. Here is the harsh reality. We are bankrupt nation that practically does not produce anything complicated anymore. We attract poor, uneducated immigrants to fill for basic jobs. We don't have neither capital nor production capacity as we used to have. We are quickly loosing knowledge to compete in high tech. Our industry is a rotten shell of it's glorious past. The captial, production, knowledge is now all in China or Asia in general. They don't need to steal things anymore. They can outproduce, outdesign us and in a few years they will design things that we have no clue how to manufacture or even copy. I seriously doubt if there is anyone today in US who could design and manufacture competitive TV set or DSLR camera even with massive budget. We have problems desining competitive cars for God's sake and those that are good have lot's of components just bought from Japan or Germany. Just look in Consumers Report. If not now then in the near future China will overcome our leadership. All they need is wait for us to retire one or two generations of engineers who still remember how things are made and we will loose majority of our knowledge. Without manufacturing industry, there will be no more patents, no more discoveries, no more advanced products made in US. You don't make advanced products in a garage anymore. You do it in huge corporations with capital, knowledge and capacity. And please, don't blame China. They did the right thing for their country. Every smart patriot would do it. You can blame our own leaders, pseudo elites that equated serivce jobs with industrial. You can now flip hamburger in McDonald. We were suppose to be postindustrial nation. Well we are getting close.

RE: Is it really stolen ?
By BRB29 on 5/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: Is it really stolen ?
By vXv on 5/28/2013 3:48:13 PM , Rating: 1
Done, not because of the content (didn't read it) but because it is a huge unreadable wall of text.

RE: Is it really stolen ?
By aharris02 on 5/28/2013 4:21:30 PM , Rating: 4
Guys, this "Enter" key thing doesn't make any sense.

I press it, and it doesn't let me enter anything.

Does it help me enter the door to a hidden theives' cave? Nope. Does using it replace the codeword needed to join the fun at my favorite speakeasy? Negative. Do I get to pass a bridge-troll without paying the toll? Certainly not.

It's useless, and I'm never going to use it again.

RE: Is it really stolen ?
By embedded_bill on 5/28/2013 4:42:58 PM , Rating: 2
Don't worry about the enter key, the bridge-troll is a much bigger problem.

RE: Is it really stolen ?
By embedded_bill on 5/28/2013 4:39:45 PM , Rating: 1
Thanks for your request, I was motivated to read it and while it is over the top there is more than a thread of truth to it.
Go ahead and ignore it or get all bent out of shape over it.

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