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.”
“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”.