A Chinese businessman has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack US defense contractors and steal sensitive military data, said the US Department of Justice in a statement. Criminal charges were originally filed against 50-year-old Su Bin in 2014, and the Chinese national was arrested in Canada that July. After pleading guilty, he now faces up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
According to US court filings, Su began working with two unnamed hackers in 2008 to target companies including Boeing. In 2010 he emailed a document to an unnamed individual in China containing data about the C-17 military transport plane. Su's co-conspirators supplied him with a list of potential hacking targets, with Su then able to select files that he might be able to sell to Chinese state-owned aerospace companies.
"Stealing from the United States and our companies has a significant cost"
"Su Bin admitted to playing an important role in a conspiracy, originating in China, to illegally access sensitive military data," said Assistant Attorney General Carlin in a press statement. "This plea sends a strong message that stealing from the United States and our companies has a significant cost; we can and will find these criminals and bring them to justice."
The DOJ did not say whether or not the Chinese government had been involved in buying data from Su, but reported that the businessman had said that he "engaged in the crime for the purpose of financial gain." At the time of his arrest, a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry said: "Chinese government organizations and the military oppose and have never participated in any form of internet hacking activity." Su's lawyer told Reuters that the 50-year-old wanted to resolve the matter and "move on with his life."