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US charges Chinese intelligence officers for jet engine data hack

US charges Chinese intelligence officers for jet engine data hack”

It seems that for the last five years, two Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) spies ran a team of hackers focusing on the theft of designs for a turbofan engine used in U.S. and European commercial airliners.

The alleged culprit is the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security (JSSD), a branch of China's Ministry of State Security (MSS), which is responsible for counterintelligence, foreign intelligence, and political security.

At the time of the hacks, which took place from January 2010 through May 2015, a Chinese-state owned aerospace company was trying to develop a comparable engine for use in aircraft to be manufactured in China and other countries.

The Justice Department said in a statement that the targeted jet engine technology was being developed jointly between US and French companies.

The intrusion, beginning in 2010, stretched beyond the two main companies involved and targeted several businesses through the USA - from MA to Arizona to OR - that were developing parts for the engine, according to the charges. In a statement, a USA attorney accused China of trying to steal the information for commercial gain, saying China could use the information to build their own engines instead of buying American.

American leaders have repeatedly accused Beijing of overstepping its bounds, orchestrating a sophisticated economic and military campaign to bolster its influence, and getting ahead by cheating and stealing intellectual property from the West. According to the indictment, they registered "doppelganger" domain names such as capstonetrubine.com that closely resembled the legitimate domain names of aerospace companies.

"This is just the beginning", he said. "Together with our federal partners, we will redouble our efforts to safeguard America's ingenuity and investment", he added.

The spies used a variety of online hacking techniques including spear phishing, malware and domain hijacking to steal employee logins and hack their way further into the company's computer systems - as well as those of a number of other aerospace companies based in the United States.

The Chinese officers conspired with hackers and company insiders to break into private companies' computer systems and steal information on a turbo fan engine used in commercial jetliners, Reuters cited federal prosecutors as saying.

Another restaurant meeting occurred in January 2014 between the officer and Gu Gen, the French company's information technology infrastructure and security manager.

The case appears to have been uncovered in May 2015 after an OR company that built parts for turbofan jet engines identified the Chinese malware and removed it from its networks. Federal authorities said it was the first time that a Chinese Ministry of State Security intelligence officer had been extradited to the United States for trial.

For Capstone, the Chinese used a malware called "Winnti" that sent a "beacon" to alert the hackers that the malware had been successfully installed.

"The French are asking Little Gu [Company I's IT manager] to inspect the record: ns24.dnsdojo.com", a Chinese intelligence officer allegedly said in a text to one of the defendants, according to the indictment. The malware, called Sakula, was created to exploit vulnerabilities in the Internet Explorer web browser.



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