Israil's ‘Iron Dome’ Missile Defense System Compromised by Chinese Hackers - BestCyberNews: Online News Presenter in the present world

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Israil's ‘Iron Dome’ Missile Defense System Compromised by Chinese Hackers

Israeli defense contractors responsible for building the “Iron Dome” missile shield currently protecting Israel from a barrage of rocket attacks were compromised by hackers and robbed of huge quantities of sensitive documents pertaining to the shield technology.

According to Columbia, Md.-based threat intelligence firm Cyber Engineering Services Inc. (CyberESI), between Oct. 10, 2011 and August 13, 2012, attackers thought to be operating out of China hacked into the corporate networks of three top Israeli defense technology companies, including Elisra Group, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

The Comment Crew is the same hacking outfit profiled in a February 2013 report by Alexandria, Va. based incident response firm Mandiant, which referred to the group simply by it’s official designation — “P.L.A. Unit 61398.” 


In May 2014, the U.S. Justice Department charged five prominent military members of the Comment Crew with a raft of criminal hacking and espionage offenses against U.S. firms.

CyberESI said, "crew members spent the next four months in 2012 using their access to install various tools and trojan horse programs on systems throughout company’s network and expanding their access to sensitive files."

CyberESI determined that the attackers exfiltrated large amounts of data from the three companies. Most of the information was intellectual property pertaining to Arrow III missiles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), ballistic rockets, and other technical documents in the same fields of study.

CyberESI’s founder and chief executive, said the nature of the exfiltrated data and the industry that these companies are involved in suggests that the Chinese hackers were looking for information related to Israel’s all-weather air defense system called Iron Dome.

The attackers followed a similar modus operandi in targeting Elisra, a breach which CyberESI says began in October 2011 and persisted intermittently until July 2012. 


The security firm said the attackers infiltrated and copied the emails for many of Elisra’s top executives, including the CEO, the chief technology officer (CTO) and multiple vice presidents within the company.

Michael Assante, project lead for Industrial Control System (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) security at the SANS Institute, said although there is a great deal of discussion in the security industry about increased information sharing as the answer to detecting these types of intrusions more quickly.

“The intellectual property was in the form of Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, spread sheets, email messages, files in portable document format (PDF), scripts, and binary executable files,” CyberESI wrote in a lengthy report produced about the breaches.

Assante said most companies in the intelligence and defense industries have gotten better at sharing information and at the so-called “cyber counter-intelligence” aspect of these attacks: Namely, in identifying the threat actors, tactics and techniques of the various state-sponsored organizations responsible.

The world’s largest defense contractors have spent hundreds of millions of dollars and several years learning how to quickly detect and respond to such sophisticated cyber attacks, it’s debatable whether this approach can or should scale for smaller firms.




Author Venkatesh Yalagandula Follow us Google + and Facebook and Twitter