China Hacked Military Contractor Networks

China's military hacked into computer networks of civilian transportation companies hired by the Pentagon at least nine times, breaking into computers aboard a commercial ship, targeting logistics companies and uploading malicious software onto an airline's computers, Senate investigators said Wednesday.

A yearlong investigation announced by the Senate Armed Services Committee identified at least 20 break-ins or other unspecified cyber events targeting companies, including nine successful break-ins of contractor networks. It blamed China's government for all the most sophisticated intrusions, although it did not provide any detailed evidence.

The Senate report did not identify which transportation companies were victimized.

Investigators said China's military was able to steal emails, documents, user accounts and computer codes. They also said China compromised systems aboard a commercial ship contracted by Transcom for logistics routes, and hacked into an airline the U.S. military used.

The committee's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat, said the hacking put at risk the security of U.S. military operations. He called his committee's findings "very disturbing."

China's government did not immediately respond Wednesday to telephone messages and emails from The Associated Press requesting comment in Beijing, its embassy in Washington and offices at the United Nations.

The newly declassified Senate report says defense contractors have generally failed to report to the Pentagon hacker break-ins of their systems as required under their business agreements.

Levin, whose staff investigated the break-ins with the committee's top Republican, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, said government agencies also failed to share information among themselves about intrusions. He said that hampers the government's ability to protect national security.

For instance, the committee said some contractors that contacted the FBI about break-ins may have not separately reported the intrusions to Transcom because the firms assumed the bureau already had notified the Pentagon. Levin said he and Inhofe were working on a bill to streamline the reporting process.


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