Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Chinese hackers breach key US weapons designs

    Chinese hackers have compromised the designs of some of America’s most sensitive and advanced weapons systems—including vital parts of the nation’s missile defenses, fighter aircraft and warships—the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
    Aircraft handling personnel with an F/A 18 Hornet aircraft on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on patrol in the South China Sea on May 23. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

    The Post cited a report prepared for the Pentagon by the Defense Science Board, which groups government officials and private sector experts. The document, “Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat,” paints a grim picture of cyber-espionage emanating from China only 10 days before President Barack Obama meets in California with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time.

    “I’m sure it will be a topic of discussion,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

    Beijing, riding a wave of robust economic growth, has been building up its military—and while the report does not accuse China's government of stealing the designs, such intrusions could help the world's most populous country enhance its armed forces.

    The Post published the list of compromised systems here. It includes drone video systems, “directed energy” (a category that includes lasers and the like) and advanced Patriot missile systems. Also compromised were designs for the F/A 18 fighter jet, V-22 Osprey, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship meant to prowl the coasts. The list also includes the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.

    The report coincided with an Australian news report that Chinese hackers illegally accessed the designs for the new top secret headquarters of Australia's intelligence service, including communications cable layouts, server locations and security systems.

    American officials have complained publicly and privately about Chinese cyber-espionage. Obama vowed in his State of the Union Address to take steps to protect the U.S. government and American businesses from such attacks—though he did not specifically name China, or Chinese hackers, as the main culprits.

    But National Security Adviser Tom Donilon took aim at China in a blunt speech in March to the Asia Society in New York.

    "From the president on down, this has become a key point of concern and discussion with China at all levels of our governments—and it will continue to be," Donilon warned.

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