Chinese hackers make off with US weapons blueprints, Australian spy HQ plans

Disturbing if true, the espionage operation in the US has reportedly garnered designs for the advanced Patriot missile system, the Navy's Aegis ballistic missile defense systems, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to the Washington Post, which cited a Defense Department report created by the Defense Science Board.

The detailed information about combat vehicles will be used to not only modernize the Chinese military, the report said, but also help China better plan defense technology. Also, the information could be used to compromise vital missile defense systems.

This high-level military targeting is becoming a theme. A recent Bloomberg report said that one of the top espionage and military contractors for the US, QinetiQ North America, has been successfully compromised and its information siphoned off. And, security firm Mandiant recently warned that Chinese hackers under the auspices of the People’s Liberation Army were back in action after a small hiatus, and probing important military and industrial properties in the name of state-sponsored espionage.

Meanwhile, China has also lifted blueprints to the brand-new headquarters of Australia’s spy division, the Security Intelligence Organization, according to a separate report from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC). A construction worker’s network was compromised, allowing the perpetrators to make off with building layouts as well as communications network infrastructure information, increasing the networks’ vulnerability to hacking or wiretapping.

"You can start constructing your own wiring diagrams, where the linkages are through telephone connections, through Wi-Fi connections, which rooms are likely to be the ones that are used for sensitive conversations, how to surreptitiously put devices into the walls of those rooms," said Australian security analyst Des Ball, speaking to ABC.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the reports were "inaccurate," but declined to elaborate.

For its part, China has repeatedly denied the espionage claims as groundless, and continues to do so. "China pays high attention to cybersecurity issues, and is firmly apposed to all forms of hacker attacks," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday afternoon. "Groundless accusations will not help solve this issue."

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