Hackers working for the Chinese Government breached the computers of a U.S. Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of data related to submarine warfare. Perhaps significantly, the data compromised included secret plans of a supersonic anti-ship missile as well.
Unnamed U.S. officials, discussing the incident with The Washington Post, mentioned that multiple breaches took place in January and February. Over 614GB of data was stolen from the computers of a contractor who worked for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a submarine and underwater weaponry research and development organization working under the U.S. Navy. The material compromised included details of a project "Sea Dragon", as well as submarine radio room information, signals and sensors data, and more. As a whole, the stolen data can be considered as classified, according to the officials, even though the data was being stored on the contractor's unclassified network. The aforementioned supersonic anti-ship missile was set to be developed by 2020 for use on U.S. submarines.
Bill Speaks, the U.S. Navy Chief of Information, commented on the standard procedure to be followed in case of a breach, noting:
"There are measures in place that require companies to notify the government when a ‘cyber incident’ has occurred that has actual or potential adverse effects on their networks that contain controlled unclassified information."
However, he refused to discuss any other details specifically related to the incident.
The U.S. Navy is currently heading an investigation into the breach, with help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The officials refused to identify the contractor, and upon the Navy's request, the newspaper also agreed to withhold some details about the hack, citing national security as the reason to do so.
With one of China's top military priorities being undersea warfare, it is perhaps not so surprising that such an incident has taken place. Military experts in the U.S. are concerned with China having developed naval capabilities that might prove to be significant in case of a conflict between both countries.