Japan’s top defense contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy, has confirmed that it was a victim of a cyber-attack recently. The hack attempt targeted submarine, missile and nuclear plant data stored on their computers. Reportedly, malware was found on almost 80 computers inside the company, including 45 servers and 38 PCs. This confirms that there were 80 infected computers running at 11 Mitsubishi Heavy sites for an uncertain period, nearly half of which were servers.
The attacks on Mitsubishi Heavy were spotted for the first time on August 11 and the intrusion seems to have come from a spear-phishing attack. This form of phishing involves sending spoofed emails to the recipient, making it look like it comes from a known email address. The day of this attack was the 80th anniversary of the Manchurian incident.
China has denied involvement with this attack. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei says,
Such allegations are groundless. The Chinese government has always opposed Internet hacking. Chinese laws prohibit hacking and other cybercrimes. I would like to emphasize that the Chinese government is willing to cooperate with other countries to fight against cybercrimes including hacking.
The matter is still under investigation and a Mitsubishi Heavy spokesperson has said,
There is no possibility of any leakage of defense-related information at this point.
Mitsubishi heavy is the largest and the most reputed defense contractor in Japan. IHI (Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries), which is another defense contractor at Japan, was also hit by a similar attack. While Mitsubishi Heavy specializes in submarine technology, IHI is famous for its aircraft turbochargers.
This event has occurred four months after the largest defense contractor in the US was hit by a cyber-attack. In both these cases, it is amusing to see how China is linked to every cyber-attack on defense contractors.