US authorities have charged a Chinese businessman with hacking into the computer systems of US companies with large defense contracts, including Boeing, to steal data on military projects, including some of its latest fighter jets, officials said on Friday.
Prosecutors said suspect Su Bin is thought to have worked with two unnamed Chinese hackers to get the data between 2009 and last year, during which he is suspected of attempting to sell some of the information to state-owned Chinese companies.
The three hackers targeted fighter jets such as the F-22 and the F-35, as well as Boeing’s C-17 military cargo aircraft program, according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Los Angeles that was unsealed on Thursday.
An attorney for Su could not be reached for comment.
Su was arrested in Canada on June 28 and remains in custody there, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in Los Angeles. He has a bail hearing set for Friday.
US Department of Justice spokesman Marc Raimondi said the conspirators are alleged to have accessed the computer networks of US defense contractors without authorization and stolen data on military aircraft and weapons systems.
“We remain deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information and we have repeatedly made it clear that the US will continue using all the tools our government possesses to strengthen cybersecurity and confront cybercrime,” Raimondi said.
Boeing said in a statement that it cooperated with investigators and will continue to do so to hold accountable “individuals who perpetrate economic espionage or trade secret theft against US companies.”
Accusations of hacking by Beijing and counterclaims of such activity by Washington have strained US-Chinese relations. Chinese hacking has been a major theme of US-China discussions this week in Beijing, though both sides have publicly steered clear of the controversy.
The New York Times on Wednesday reported that Chinese hackers broke into the networks of the US Office of Personnel Management this year with the intention of accessing the files of tens of thousands of federal employees who applied for top-secret security clearances.
Senior officials say hackers gained access to some of the agency’s databases in March before the threat was detected and blocked.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday said both the federal personnel office and the US Department of Homeland Security took steps to mitigate any risk after learning of the situation.
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