Japan's Largest Defense Contractor Admits 'Possibility' Cyber-Attackers Stole Sensitive Data

A month after Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said there was "no possibility" that data was stolen after cyber-attackers infected 83 servers, the company now reports it's "possible."

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan's largest defense contractor, said it was possible that attackers who had breached its networks and infected several machines with malware had also stolen some sensitive information.

While it fell short of an outright admission, the company's statement was a slight reversal from previous claims that no data had been compromised.

Some information on the company's products and technology had been moved from one server to another and it was possible the data had been transferred out of the company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said in a statement on Oct. 25. The company acknowledged the theft a day after Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun cited unnamed sources who claimed information had been stolen during the attack.

Previously, a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries spokesperson had said that although the attackers had uncovered some data, such as the IP addresses assigned to the systems, but there was "no possibility of any leakage of defense-related information at this point."

"The company investigated the incident further and recognized the possibility of some data leakage from the server in question," Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said in the latest statement, emphasizing that it hasn't found actual evidence yet.

Sources told Asahi Shimbun that "sensitive information concerning vital defense equipment, such as fighter jets, as well as nuclear power plant design and safety plans" had been stolen. Mitsubishi Heavy declined to confirm whether the "unintended" data transfer involved any defense or nuclear technologies.

Mitsubishi Heavy detected the network breach in August but did not disclose it publicly until September. About 80 computers in the company's Tokyo headquarters and production sites such as shipyards and manufacturing plants were infected with malware. An analysis of the infected systems revealed at least eight different Trojans had been used in the attack, and at least one of them had been a keylogger program.

This article was originally published on 10-26-2011
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.

Click for a full list of Newsletterssubmit