Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project, NYPD Computers

Computer spies have broken into plans on the Joint Strike Fighter project, a $300 billion Defense Department fighter-jet program. The cyber attacks allegedly came from China. From the Wall Street Journal:

Attacks like these — or U.S. awareness of them — appear to have escalated in the past six months, said one former official briefed on the matter. “There’s never been anything like it,” this person said, adding that other military and civilian agencies as well as private companies are affected. “It’s everything that keeps this country going.”

Many details couldn’t be learned, including the specific identity of the attackers, and the scope of the damage to the U.S. defense program, either in financial or security terms. In addition, while the spies were able to download sizable amounts of data related to the jet-fighter, they weren’t able to access the most sensitive material, which is stored on computers not connected to the Internet.

Former U.S. officials say the attacks appear to have originated in China. However it can be extremely difficult to determine the true origin because it is easy to mask identities online.

China has denied any ties to the computer spies. From the Times Online:

Chinese officials reacted angrily to the accusation, and a spokesman for the foreign ministry said: “China has not changed its stance on hacking. China has always been against hacking and we have cracked down very hard on hacking. This is not a Chinese phenomenon. It happens everywhere in the world.”

[…] A report issued by the Pentagon last month said the Chinese military has made “steady progress” in its online warfare capabilities, a key field in which China can compete with the US.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington called the report “a product of the Cold War mentality” and said accusations of cyber crime were being spread to inflame opinion against China.

NYPD computers have also been the target of cyber hackers, some of whom have been traced to China. From the Associated Press:

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says international hackers try at least 70,000 times a day to gain unauthorized entry into the computer system of the nation’s largest police force.

But he said Wednesday all the attempts have failed because of a strong protection system that prevents security breaches.

Kelly says the NYPD has documented computers in China, the Netherlands and other countries that illegally scan NYPD computers, looking to hack into the system.

April 22, 2009 7:39 PM
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Categories: Politics, Sci-Tech, Society