"I WANT TO GET AWAY, I WANT TO FLYYYY AWWWAYYY," is potentially what Chinese hackers could have spouted as they allegedly made off with the intellectual property of a jet engine.
According to charged brought against 10 Chinese nationals by the US Department of Justice, alleged hackers - of which two were marked as Chinese intelligence officers - cracked into an unnamed French company that was working with a US counterpart to pilfer the IP of a turbofan jet engine for use in large commercial aircraft.
"From at least January 2010 to May 2015, JSSD [Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security] intelligence officers and their team of hackers, including Zhang Zhang-Gui, Liu Chunliang, Gao Hong Kun, Zhuang Xiaowei, and Ma Zhiqi, focused on the theft of technology underlying a turbofan engine used in US and European commercial airliners," the DoJ said.
"This engine was being developed through a partnership between a French aerospace manufacturer with an office in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China, and a company based in the United States.
"Members of the conspiracy, assisted and enabled by JSSD-recruited insiders Gu Gen and Tian Xi, hacked the French aerospace manufacturer. The hackers also conducted intrusions into other companies that manufactured parts for the turbofan jet engine, including aerospace companies based in Arizona, Massachusetts and Oregon. At the time of the intrusions, a Chinese state-owned aerospace company was working to develop a comparable engine for use in commercial aircraft manufactured in China and elsewhere."
So it looks like the cyber stealing could be attributed to some corporate espionage and attempts by the alleged Chinese hackers to get data that could ensure Chinese airlines keep competitive with Western rivals or at least prevent French and US airlines from pressing ahead with a new jet engine.
Unless the US authorities manage to grab the accused Chinese nationals on US soil or in nations where US extradition is supported, we're not sure how the DoJ will be able to bring its charges to bear. But one thing's for sure US officials aren't taking such corporate and supposedly state-sponsored hacking lying down.
"For the third time since only September, the National Security Division, with its US Attorney partners, has brought charges against Chinese intelligence officers from the JSSD and those working at their direction and control for stealing American intellectual property," said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
"This is just the beginning. Together with our federal partners, we will redouble our efforts to safeguard America's ingenuity and investment."
"State-sponsored hacking is a direct threat to our national security. This action is yet another example of criminal efforts by the MSS to facilitate the theft of private data for China's commercial gain," said US Attorney Adam Braverman. "The concerted effort to steal, rather than simply purchase, commercially available products should offend every company that invests talent, energy, and shareholder money into the development of products."
For the time being, we'll just have to wait and see how the whole situation turns out, but we doubt such hacking will go away anytime soon. µ
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