Chinese hackers reportedly accessed U.S. weapons designs

The designs for some of the most sensitive
advanced U.S. weapons systems were
reportedly accessed by Chinese hackers,
according to a confidential report prepared
by the Defense Science Board for the
Pentagon.
The report, a copy of which was obtained
by the Washington Post, listed more than
two dozen compromised weapons systems,
including missile defenses and combat
aircraft. The security breaches, the latest
linked to China, could allow the country to
accelerate development of its own systems
and weakens the U.S. military position,
experts told the Post.
The public version of the report, titled
"Resilient Military Systems and the
Advanced Cyber Threat," ( PDF) called the
cyberthreat "serious," likening the potential
situation to "the nuclear threat of the Cold
War."
"[The Defense Department] is not prepared
to defend against this threat," the report
said. "With present capabilities and
technology it is not possible to defend with
confidence against the most sophisticated
cyber attacks."
Some of the designs accessed by hackers
included an advanced Patriot missile
system, known as PAC-3, as well as those
for the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey,
and the Black Hawk helicopter, the Post
reported.
The documents did not indicate when or
where the intrusions occurred, whether
they were via government or contractor
computer networks.
"In many cases, they don't know they've
been hacked until the FBI comes knocking
on their door," an unidentified senior
military official told the Post. "This is
billions of dollars of combat advantage for
China. They've just saved themselves 25
years of research and development."
The report emerges as the Pentagon
steadily increases the tenor of allegations
that the Chinese government and military
have engaged in widespread cyberespionage
targeting U.S. government and business
computer networks. In its annual report to
Congress on China's military earlier this
month, the Pentagon accused China of
masterminding a steady campaign of
computer intrusions in 2012 that were
designed to acquire information about the
U.S. government's foreign policy and
military plans.
In March, the Obama administration
demanded that China end its
"unprecedented" campaign of
cyberespionage, warning that the hacking
activity threatens to derail efforts to build
stronger ties between the two countries.
A recent report alleged that an
"overwhelming percentage" of cyberattacks
on U.S. corporations, government
agencies, and organizations originate from
an office building on the outskirts of
Shanghai that's connected to the People's
Liberation Army.
China has denied any involvement and
condemned the report for lack of hard
evidence.