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JSF details among data hacked from Defence subcontractor

The ASD learned of the hack, which occurred as early as July 2016, after being tipped off by a "partner organisation" in November.

A mystery hacker codenamed after a larrikin Australian soap opera character has been revealed as stealing sensitive, high-level information about a $1.1 trillion defence project created by an alliance including Australia, the U.S, United Kingdom and Canada.

In addition to the F-35A program, the attacker obtained restricted technical data on the P-8 Poseidon spy aircraft, the C-130 transport plane, the Joint Direct Attack Munition smart bomb and a number of Australian naval vessels. He said they used a hacking tool called China Chopper, which is reportedly widely used by Chinese hackers.

The firm was subcontracted four levels down from defence contracts and had only one IT person.

"We found one document [that] was like a Y-diagram of one of the Navy's new ships and you could zoom in down the captain's chair and see that it's one metre away from the nav [navigation] chair and that sort of thing".

But he said it was a "stretch" to blame the government for the procedures of what could have been a small sub-contractor working for one of the Defence Department's main contractors.

The subcontractor was revealed as using software that hadn't been updated for 12 months as well as username-password combinations, "admin-admin" and "guest-guest".

The stolen data was not classified military information, but it was described as "commercially sensitive".

"You don't know that we've tendered a major defence contract to a small enterprise with poor cyber security protections, you don't know that".

"It could have been a state actor, it could have been cyber criminals, and that's why it was taken so seriously".

"Today, while presenting at a conference in Sydney, an ASD official (who works for the ACSC) disclosed information about the theft of data from an Australian company", the spokesperson said.

Defence industry minister Christopher Pyne told the ABC on Thursday he does not know who the hacker is and indicated he would not tell if he knew, "It could be a state actor, a non-state actor".

"Fortunately the data that has been taken is commercial data, not military data", he said.

Mr Pyne later noted the information collected by the ASD was highly-classified and "we don't necessarily let the public know" about the identities of hackers. It could be a state actor, it could be a non-state actor.



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