US Navy contractors' data compromised by Chinese hackers: WSJ

The US Secretary of the Navy has reportedly ordered a top-to-bottom review of the branch's cyber security vulnerabilities

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File Photo: US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer

File Photo: US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In what may be a follow up report to news that the U.S. Department of Justice will soon issue indictments for several Chinese agents on charges of illegal data breaches, it was reported over the weekend that U.S. Navy contractors have been the target of cyber-attacks over recent years.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Chinese hackers have compromised sensitive data stored by U.S. Navy contractors a number of times over the past 18 months. As a result, a comprehensive review of the Navy’s cyber vulnerabilities has been ordered by Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.

This follows on the heels of reports that China is the primary suspect behind a hack of the Marriott Hotels group, a cyber espionage operation which allegedly compromised the private data of around 500 million individuals.

Smaller budget contractors, considered more vulnerable, were the primary target of the attacks, reports the WSJ. Alarmingly, some classified information involving supersonic anti-ship missile technology was also compromised during one of the data breaches targeting the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Rhode Island.

According to the report there are certain markers and traces of hacking tools that identify the culprits as originating in China. An IP address linked to a malware operation was reportedly uncovered in one investigation and indicated a computer located on Hainan Island.

The Navy has not released details on the exact number or frequency of the cyber attacks, but there were reportedly "more than a handful"over the past year and a half. Experts on cyber-security have tentatively connected some of the known attacks to a Chinese hacking group known as Temp.Periscope or Leviathan.