Data about Australia's F-35 stealth aircraft stolen during cyber-attack

In addition to the F-35A program the attacker obtained restricted technical data on the P-8 Poseidon spy aircraft the C-130 transport plane, the Joint Direct Attack Munition smart bomb and a number of Austra

The data extracted included details about new fighter planes and navy vessels.

"While the Australian company is a national security-linked contractor and the information disclosed was commercially sensitive, it was unclassified", a spokesperson for the ACSC told The Australian.

An Australian Signals Directorate employee, Mitchell Clarke, revealed at an IT industry conference on Wednesday foreign hackers stole 30 gigabytes of data from an unnamed Defence Department contractor a year ago.

At the moment, QinetiQ Australia has 350 specialist staff located across Australia who use their know-how to deliver value solutions to Australian defence and government organisations across air, land, sea and information domains as well as the rail and mining industries.

"It could be one of a number of different actors", Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Thursday.

Clarke said the "methodical, slow and deliberate", choice of target suggested a nation-state actor could be behind the attack, according to Reuters. "It could somebody working for another company".

"Given that hackers were able to roam the network long enough to siphon off 30GB of sensitive data, it highlights that there is a fundamental element of cyber-security missing".

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"The compromise was extensive and extreme", he said at the Australian Information Security Association national conference.

The network reportedly had no protective DMZ, no regular patch schedule, and common local admin passwords on all servers and the hosts had internet-facing services.

"Even in highly regulated environments, we still find default credentials and a lack of patching being one of the top root causes for system insecurity", says incident response expert David Stubley, who heads cybersecurity consultancy 7 Elements in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Earlier this week, it emerged Australia has been subjected to 47,000 cyber incidents in the last 12 months - a 15% increase on the previous year.

"Su Bin admitted to playing an important role in a conspiracy, originating in China, to illegally access sensitive military data, including data relating to military aircraft that are indispensable in keeping our military personnel safe", John P. Carlin, then the US assistant attorney general for national security, said at the time.

"Security thinking needs to change; organisations need to move away from the concept of owned and unowned networks or infrastructure and consider only users, applications and secure access - and the security industry must facilitate that shift".

"It is a very important reminder to small and medium enterprises as well as the large contractors that they will not get work in defence industry if their cyber security is not up to standard", he said. Nominations are now open for the Women in IT USA Awards 2018.

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