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China obtained more than 50 terabytes of data from U.S. defense and government networks, notably the Joint Strike Fighter’s stealth F-35 radar and engine secrets, through cyber espionage, according to newly disclosed National Security Agency documents.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, an NSA briefing slide labeled “Top Secret” states that the Chinese have stolen a massive amount of data from U.S. government and private contractors.
The document was made public by the German magazine Der Spiegel in a two articles detailing how NSA in the mid-2000s was capable of conducting global cyber intelligence-gathering by tapping into the networks of foreign intelligence services and stealing the data they were collecting from others.
According to the NSA, the Chinese were able to obtain digital design information on several different types of radar modules used by the F-35 fighter.
By learning the secrets, the Chinese were able to include the design and technology in Beijing’s new stealth jet, the J-20. The secret also could allow Chinese air defenses to target the F-35 in a future conflict.
The NSA estimated in the briefing slide that the Chinese had conducted more than 30,000 cyber attacks as part of the massive defense industrial espionage, and that more than 500 attacks were “significant intrusions in DoD systems.”
More than 1,600 network computers were penetrated and at least 600,000 user accounts were compromised, the undated slide stated, noting that the damage from the Chinese cyber spying was assessed to be more than $100 million, mainly in costs for rebuilding networks.
Other losses to Chinese cyber spies included the air refueling schedules of the U.S. Pacific Command, the military command that would be engaged in any future conflict with China.
The refueling schedules could reveal to the Chinese how Pacific Air Forces conduct operations in wartime and how they are supported in military operations over long distances of the Pacific.
China also stole data on the U.S. Transportation Command’s Single Mobility System. The network system is used by Transcom to plan missions for sending military troops and equipment by aircraft, ship, road, and rail in military operations.
The NSA also revealed that the Air Force’s networks were infiltrated by Chinese hackers, an attack that resulted in the loss of 33,000 records for general and field grade officers.