Hackers admit they stole large amounts of military information over 6-year period, but get a slap on the wrist in plea deal.
Wealthy Chinese businessman Su Bin (aka Stephen Su or Stephen Subin) owns a Beijing aviation technology company called Lode Tech; he’s a permanent resident of Canada and owns homes in Canada and China. This Tuesday he reached a plea deal in US District Court in Los Angeles, which includes admission of conspiring with two Chinese hackers from 2008 to 2014, who broke into the U.S. computer networks at Boeing and other defense companies.
The two Chinese agents were linked to multiple organizations in China. They emailed Su with stolen defense data from U.S. and foreign company networks. Su then advised the two agents on which specific technologies to target from the companies. According to the FBI, the three obtained details on dozens of military projects. Su also sought to sell the stolen U.S. technology to state-owned companies in China.
Data stolen included access to some 630,000 Boeing computer files on the C-17 military transport aircraft technology; data on the F-22 and F-35 aircraft, which is the military’s most advanced radar-evading stealth fighter jets, including details on a component the stealth jet used to launch missiles; and the “flight test plan” on the F-35.
According to the FBI, a report by the spies stated that the stolen data would “allow us to rapidly catch up with U.S. levels” and will allow China to “stand easily on the giant’s shoulders.”
Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in a statement that Su admitted to playing an important role in the China-based conspiracy “to illegally access sensitive military data, including data relating to military aircraft that are indispensable in keeping our military personnel safe.”
“This plea sends a strong message that stealing from the United States and our companies has a significant cost; we can and will find these criminals and bring them to justice,” Carlin said.
U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement that cyber crime “represents one of the most serious threats to our national security.”
So…. Both the Chinese and the U.S. admit this was devastating to the United States’ national security. Just how tough will the punishment be? How strong a message are we really sending?
Under the plea deal, Su faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for July 13.
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