China-based hackers stole plans for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in 2011 and 2012, according to an investigation by a Maryland-based cyber security firm first reported by independent journalist Brian Krebs.
The hackers also stole plans related to other missile interceptors, including the Arrow 3, which was designed by Boeing and other U.S.-based companies.
According to Krebs, “the attacks bore all of the hallmarks of the ‘Comment Crew,’ a prolific and state-sponsored hacking group associated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and credited with stealing terabytes of data from defense contractors and U.S. corporations.” The hackers gained access to the systems of three Israeli companies working on missile defense. Maryland-based Cyber Engineering Services could prove that 700 documents were stolen in the breach although it’s likely that the actual number is higher.
Krebs reported that some of these documents bore “markings indicating that their access and sharing is restricted by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) — U.S. State Department controls that regulate the defense industry.”
Elements of the Chinese state are willing to gain any potential intelligence or technological advantage regardless of the possible diplomatic consequences.
But this breach could also indicate a particular Chinese interest in granular and difficult-to-master military technologies. As Lindsay notes, missile defense is a technological puzzle, with high-profile systems like the U.S.’s Patriot missile battery often showing disappointing results in the field, as during the first Gulf War.
Israel has a highly developed domestic arms industry that seems to have mastered a difficult niche ability. With the Iron Dome’s apparent success after Israel’s 2012 conflict with Hamas, it must have seemed like an irresistible target to the Chinese — despite improving relations with Israel.
Full article: Chinese Hackers Stole Plans For Israel’s Iron Dome (Business Insider)