China hacked a Navy contractor and secured a trove of highly sensitive data on submarine warfare

(Washington Post) Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare — including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020, according to American officials.

The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, R.I., that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry.

The officials did not identify the contractor.

Taken were 614 gigabytes of material relating to a closely held project known as Sea Dragon, as well as signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library. . . .

. . . For years, Chinese government hackers have siphoned information on the U.S. military, underscoring the challenge the Pentagon faces in safeguarding details of its technological advances.

Over the years, the Chinese have snatched designs for

  • the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter;
  • the advanced Patriot PAC-3 missile system;
  • the Army system for shooting down ballistic missiles known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense; and
  • the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship, a small surface vessel designed for near-shore operations,

according to previous reports prepared for the Pentagon.

In some cases, suspected Chinese breaches appear to have resulted in copycat technologies, such as the drones China has produced that mimic U.S. unmanned aircraft. . . . (read more)