Joint Strike Fighter plans stolen in Australia cyber attack

In addition to the F-35A program the attacker obtained restricted technical data on the P-8 Poseidon spy aircraft the C-130 transport plane, the Joint Direct Attack Munition smart bomb and a number of Austra

The data stolen included classified information on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the C-130 transport aircraft, the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) smart bomb kit, and a few Australian naval vessels.

Hackers siphoned off data over four months before being stopped, taking sensitive information on Australia's multi-billion dollar defence projects.

Australian Signals Directorate incident response manager Mitchell Clarke told a conference in Sydney on Wednesday the hackers targeted a small "mum and dad type business" - an aerospace engineering company with about 50 employees in July a year ago.

The hackers used a tool called "China Chopper" which according to security experts is widely used by Chinese operators, and had gained access via an Internet-facing server, he said.

Some 30GB of "sensitive data" subjected to restricted access under the U.S. government's International Traffic in Arms Regulations rules was stolen, ASD's Mr Mitchell Clarke told a security conference Wednesday according to ZDNet.

Australian Signals Directorate incident response manager Mitchell Clarke, as ZDNet first reported, told the Australian Information Security Association conference in Sydney on Wednesday that "a significant amount of data was stolen". The ASD appears to have a sense of humor about the breach, dubbing the three months when the hacker had unfettered and unknown access to the network "Alf's Mystery Happy Fun Time".

The hacker was code named "Apt Alf" after a popular Australian TV character.

Even without this exploit, the company still had used the default username and passwords for many of its logins.

A spokesman for the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), a government agency, said the government would not release further details about the cyber attack.

"While the Australian company is a national-security linked contractor and the information disclosed was commercially sensitive, it was unclassified", they said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

The Australian defence industry minister has confirmed on Thursday that top secret data about the Joint Strike Fighter programme and other military hardware has been stolen.

"It is not classified and it is not unsafe in terms of the military", he said. It could be a state actor, it could be a non-state actor.

"I don't think you can try and sheet blame for a small enterprise having lax cyber security back to the Federal Government", he told RN Breakfast. "It could be someone who is working for another company".

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