Report: US weapons systems compromised by Chinese hackers

Chinese hackers compromised designs for many of the nation’s most advanced weapons systems, according to a secret Pentagon report.

The hacking affected more than two dozen weapons systems, including some used aboard combat aircraft and ships, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the review from the Defense Science Board. 

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Some critical weapons mentioned in the report include the V-22 Osprey, the F/A-18 and F-22 fighter jets, the Navy’s Aegis missile defense system and their new littoral combat ships.

The report warns that the information gathered by hackers could weaken the effectiveness of these weapons in a future conflict and could accelerate China’s efforts to develop competing weapon systems.

“The Department of Defense has growing concerns about the global threat to economic and national security from persistent cyber-intrusions aimed at the theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and commercial data, which threatens the competitive edge of U.S. businesses like those in the Defense Industrial Base,” a Pentagon spokesperson told the Post.

The review did not charge the Chinese government with orchestrating the attacks, but the new report comes amid growing concern in the White House and on Capitol Hill over cyber threats from China. 

Earlier this month the Pentagon directly accused the Chinese military for the first time of hacking into U.S. government computer systems to steal intelligence. That report said those attacks were geared to finding information from defense industries to benefit Chinese companies.

A report from an independent security firm Mandiant in March also caught Chinese hackers seeking to eliminate traces of their online presence after they launched a cyber espionage effort targeting American businesses. 

That report pushed the White House to urge China to do more to stop hackers, with Obama’s national security adviser Tom Donilon saying that the international community could not “tolerate such activity.” 

In February, Obama also signed an executive order on cybersecurity to bolster defenses for the nation’s critical infrastructure. 

The Post report said top U.S. officials had cited specific cyberattacks during meetings with Chinese counterparts last year in an effort to press Beijing to take action.

President Obama is also expected to raise the issue when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping next month.