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US charges Chinese hackers for obtaining military data from Boeing, Lockheed Martin

US charges Chinese hackers for obtaining military data from Boeing, Lockheed Martin

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The US government is continuing its efforts to put pressure on Chinese cyber-espionage activities. According to The Wall Street Journal, the US Justice Department filed charges against a Chinese national living in Canada named Su Bin. The business owner is charged with working with two anonymous hackers to illegally obtain information on military aircraft produced by US defense contractors.

The three conspirators allegedly worked from 2009 to 2013 on obtaining the information, and they were apparently successful in stealing some sensitive documents related to the Lockheed Martin-built F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, as well as Boeing's C-17 military transport aircraft. The complaint additionally alleges that the conspirators provided Bin with a 1,467-page document of potential hacking targets. Bin could then select attractive files that he could then potentially sell to state-owned aerospace companies in China.

Hackers able to obtain info on F-22 and F-35 fighter jets

The full extent of the connection between Bin's efforts and Chinese-supported hacking remains unclear — it appears that he was working with his own commercial gain in mind, though the data he obtained may have very well ended up in the hands of companies owned by the state. Bin was reportedly arrested in Canada on June 28th, and is facing extradition.

Earlier this year the US charged Chinese army hackers for economic espionage, the first time it formally accused another country of hacking for economic gain. That was merely a high water mark in what has long been a heated exchange of words, as the US has repeatedly cautioned the Chinese over the dangers of its cyber-espionage programs. According to a national intelligence report, the country's efforts to steal US trade secrets are the most aggressive in the world. Estimates say that these cyber-espionage activities cost the US anywhere from $24 billion to $120 billion per year.