Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd said yesterday its computers had been hacked into, with one newspaper saying the target was Japan’s biggest defense contractor’s factories for submarines, missiles and nuclear power plant components.
The company said in a statement that some information could have been stolen in the first known cyber attack on Japan’s defense industry.
“We’ve found out that some system information such as IP addresses have been leaked and that’s creepy enough,” a Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman said.
“We can’t rule out small possibilities of further information leakage, but so far crucial data about our products or technologies have been kept safe,” he said, adding the company first noticed the cyberattack on Aug. 11.
A Japanese defense white paper released last month urged vigilance against cyber attacks after a spate of high-profile online assaults this year that included Lockheed Martin and other US defense contractors.
There were suggestions at the time that those attacks had originated in China.
The Yomiuri Shimbun said about 80 virus-infected computers were found at the company’s Tokyo headquarters as well as manufacturing and research and development sites, including Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works, Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works and Nagoya Guidance & Propulsion System Works.
Kobe Shipyard builds submarines and makes components to build nuclear power stations, while the Nagasaki Shipyard makes escort ships. The Nagoya plant makes guided missiles and rocket engines, the paper said citing unnamed sources.
At least eight different kinds of computer virus including a Trojan horse, which steals key information from infected computer hardware, were found at Mitsubishi Heavy’s main office or production sites, the Yomiuri said.
The company is the country’s biggest defense contractor, winning 215 deals worth ￥260 billion (US$3.4 billion) from Japan’s Ministry of Defense in the year to last March, or nearly a quarter of the ministry’s spending that year.
Weapons included surface-to-air Patriot missiles and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles.
Mitsubishi Heavy has also been working closely with Boeing, making wings for its 787 Dreamliner jets.
“It’s probably just the first time that hacking attacks in Japan have been detected. It’s consistent with what we’ve seen already with big American defense companies,” said Andrew Davies, a cyber warfare analyst with a government backed defense think-tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
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