Schematics from Israel's Iron Dome missile shield 'hacked' by Chinese, says report

Schematics and technical documents from three Israeli defence contractors were reportedly stolen between 2011 and 2012 by state-sponsored hackers

Chinese military hackers have reportedly stolen “huge quantities of sensitive data” regarding Iron Dome, Israel’s US-funded, billion-dollar missile shield.

Documents from three Israeli defence contractors were reportedly stolen in a series of attacks between 2011 and 2012 by a group known as the “Comment Crew”, a hacker organization funded by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Accusations of the attacks were made by cybersecurity group Cyber Engineering Services (CyberESI) on the blog of independent security analyst Brian Krebs.

According to the report, Israeli contractors Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, and the Elisra Group were all targeted, with the stolen data including technical documents covering everything from ballistic rockets to drones.

Joseph Drissel of CyberESI said that the nature of the attacks suggested the hackers were looking for information about Iron Dome, the missile intercept system that is widely credited with the low number of Israeli citizen casualties in the ongoing Gaza conflict.

The hackers also stole a 900-page document providing detailed schematics of the Arrow III missile, a technology that Cyber ESI founder Joseph Drissel said “wasn’t designed by Israel, but by Boeing and other US defence contractors.”

Israel's iron dome defence system Iron Dome: Israel's defence program is credited with the low citizen casualties in the country.
Read more: 'We ignore this new anti-Semitism at our peril'
Heaviest night of strikes hits sole power plant
Baby born by caesarean after mother is killed in air strike

“We transferred this technology to them, and they coughed it all up. In the process, they essentially gave up a bunch of stuff that’s probably being used in our systems as well,” Drissel told Krebs.

This American connection might suggest why the hacks have not been reported by Israeli contractors. Two of those companies contacted by Krebs did not reply while a third, IAI, said that the information was “old news”.

“At the time, the issue was treated as required by the applicable rules and procedures,” IAI’s Eliana Fishler told Krebs. “The information was reported to the appropriate authorities. IAI undertook corrective actions in order to prevent such incidents in the future.”

When pressed however, IAI were not able to provide links to any media coverage of the hacks.

The group that CyberESI blame for the attacks, Comment Crew, were identified by security firm Mandiant as Unit 61398 of the PLA in February 2013. This report led to the arrest in May of five members of the group by the United States Department of Justice for attacks against private firms.

However, CyberESI have not published any direct evidence of the Chinese military’s involvement other commenting that the attack “bore all the hallmarks” of the Comment Crew.

The attacks included installing various tools and Trojan horse programs on the internal systems of the Israeli contractors, with the hackers reportedly gaining access to the email accounts of top executives.

Speaking to Business Insider, research scientist Jon Lindsay of the University of California's Global Institute on Conflict and Cooperation said the hacks might suggest the Chinese were interested in developing their own missile shields, a notoriously difficult technology to create, but that they might also have been more speculative.

"The Chinese style of espionage is more like a vacuum cleaner than a closely-directed telescope," Lindsay said. "They go after a lot of different kinds of targets — the leaders in any particular industry."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high