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Report: China hacked a Navy contractor and stole huge amounts of sensitive data

F18 Hornet fighter jets sit on the Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on May 8. Navy officials recently told The Washington Post that Chinese hackers had stolen large amounts of sensitive data from a Nav contractor. (Aris Messinis/ AFP)

Chinese hackers stole huge amounts of highly sensitive data from a Navy contractor, according to a report by the Washington Post. The breaches took place in January and February.

What was taken?

American officials, who only talked to the Post on the condition of anonymity, said that the hackers stole massive amounts of data. This included plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for submarines.

In addition, 624 gigabytes of data related to a secretive project dubbed "Sea Dragon," information on cryptographic systems for submarine radio rooms, details about hundreds of mechanical and software systems, and signals and sensor data.

The Pentagon has spent more than $300 million since 2015 on the Sea Dragon project, which involves adapting current Navy technology for new uses.

China has been trying to upgrade its own military to match that of the United States, but so far it continues to fall behind in a few significant areas.

Bryan Clark, a naval analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment told the Post that submarine technology was a crucial advantage that the U.S. currently had against the Chinese Navy.

“U.S. naval forces are going to have a really hard time operating in that area, except for submarines, because the Chinese don’t have a lot of anti-submarine warfare capability,” he said.

How was it taken?

The data was reportedly stolen from a Navy contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, although the Post's sources would not say which contractor was targeted.

The data itself was stored on an unclassified network, but the officials who talked to the Post said that when all of the data that was stolen was put together the result would be considered classified.

What now?

The Navy and the FBI are investigating the breach.

Navy spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks told the Post, “There are measures in place that require companies to notify the government when a ‘cyber incident’ has occurred that has actual or potential adverse effects on their networks that contain controlled unclassified information.”

However, he also said that it would be "inappropriate" to add any more details.

One last thing…
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