Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Feds charge Chinese intelligence officers with stealing USA plane technology

Feds charge Chinese intelligence officers with stealing USA plane technology

The new charges mark the third time since September that charges have been brought against Chinese intelligence officers for trying to steal U.S. intellectual property.

The United States has charged ten Chinese citizens, including two intelligence officers, with hacking company computers to steal jet engine technology from American and European aerospace companies.

In a statement released to the Los Angeles indictment States that two officers, foreign intelligence, and six other accused from 2010 to 2015 conspired to steal the technology of turbofan engines used in commercial aviation.

The turbofan engine the alleged hacking conspirators sought to replicate was developed through a partnership of the French company with an office in Suzhou and a USA company, according to the indictment, which was filed in the Southern District of California. The hackers also conducted intrusions into other companies that manufactured parts for the turbofan jet engine, including aerospace companies based in Arizona, Massachusetts and Oregon.

A state-controlled aerospace company in China had been working to develop similar technology for an engine to use in commercial airliners in China at the time, the indictment alleges.

The hackers sent spearphishing emails to company employees and planted malware into corporate computer networks, according to the indictment.

Terming the state-sponsored hacking a national threat to the United States, U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said, "State-sponsored hacking is a direct threat to our national security".

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Chinese intelligence officers for conducting or enabling repeated intrusions into private companies' computer systems in the United States of America (USA) and overseas "for over five years" on Tuesday (local time). There were a few mistakes that investigators found, including that one of the hackers used his own personal email account to test the new legitimate email account.

The indictments came after the Department of Justice obtained the unprecedented extradition of a senior Chinese intelligence official from Belgium to stand trial in the U.S. for running the alleged state-sponsored effort to steal American aviation industry secrets.

"The concerted effort to steal, rather than simply purchase, commercially available products should offend every company that invests talent, energy and shareholder money into the development of products", he said.

Another hacker, Zhang Zhang-Gui and Chinese national Li Xiao were charged in a separate hacking operation that gained access to a San Diego-based technology companies.

"We will redouble our efforts to safeguard America's ingenuity and investment", he said. It's said that the hackers used various techniques, including using multiple malware strains on computers, spear fishing, domain hijacking and "using the victim companies" own websites as "watering holes' to compromise website visitors' computers".

The prosecution is linked to another San Diego case that accuses a Shanghai malware broker of providing the Sakula program for the Capstone Turbine attacks.

In November 2013, an intelligence officer told Tian Xi, a product manager for the French company: "I'll bring the (Trojan) horse (malware) to you tonight".

The indictment detailed the tactics deployed by the 10 defendants. The malware, called Sakula, was created to exploit vulnerabilities in the Internet Explorer web browser.

Like this: