The Shadow War’: How a Chinese spy stole some of the Pentagon’s most sensitive secrets

May 28, 2019

Businessman/ spy / hacker?

It marks the first time that the FBI has issued an arrest warrant for a foreigner charged with an act of cyber espionage via a network attack that has until now been attributed exclusively to state actors like the PLA (Chinese People’s Liberation Army).Su Bin, 51, a Chinese national who also went by Stephen Su traveled frequently to the United States and Canada, to build a business in the aviation and aerospace sectors.

His company, Lode-Tech, was a small player in a field of giants. However, from 2009 to 2014, Su progressively and deliberately built a network of close business contacts inside far bigger US and Canadian defense contractors who held some of most sensitive US military contracts.

3 years’ worth of data

He had been accused of participating in a years-long plot to steal military trade secrets and technical data — Bin did not get any money from the scheme, but he admitted that he entered the plot in order to profit.One of the companies targeted in the conspiracy was Chicago-based Boeing, whose computer servers in Orange County stored detailed files on the C-17 military aircraft.

Bin admitted that sensitive military information was accessed on the servers and sent to China. Bin and his co-conspirators also handled data related to the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, both made by Lockheed Martin Corp., according to court papers. As part of the conspiracy, Bin reviewed files and translated a technical flight test plan from English into Chinese.

Su’s teamalso drafted and sent reports summarizing the information and technology gained from the hacking effort including details related to Boeing’s C-17 military transport plane and other fighter jets produced for the U.S. military — for the Chinese government. During the hacking spree, they would claim to have stolen some 630,000 digital files — totaling a gargantuan 65 gigabytes of data — on the C-17 alone.

They stole tens of thousands more files on the F-22 and F-35. It was an extraordinary collection of information on some of America’s most advanced and sensitive military projects. Su’s team, while extremely successful, was just one small part of a massive army of Chinese hackers devoted to stealing America’s most sensitive government and private sector secrets.

Digital footprint

FBI analysts successfully followed their electronic trail across the globe, through multiple countries and multiple “hop points,” and traced it all back to one friendly and gregarious Chinese businessman.

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