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Chinese Hackers Are Reportedly Stealing Loads Of US Navy Secrets, And The Navy Is Scrambling To Stop It
U.S. Navy defense contractors and subcontractors have reportedly suffered "more than a handful" of disconcerting security breaches at the hands of Chinese hackers over the past year and a half.
"Attacks on our networks are not new, but attempts to steal critical information are increasing in both severity and sophistication," Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said in an internal memo in October, The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the memo, reported Friday.
"We must act decisively to fully understand both the nature of these attacks and how to prevent further loss of vital military information," he added.
Although the secretary did not mention China specifically, evidence indicates that Beijing is responsible for what is considered a debilitating cyber campaign against the U.S.
Earlier this year, Chinese government hackers stole important data on U.S. Navy undersea warfare programs from an unidentified contractor. Among the stolen information were plans for a new supersonic anti-ship missile, The Washington Post, citing U.S. officials, reported in June.
China has been striving to boost its naval warfighting capabilities, and there is evidence that it is relying on stolen technology to do so.
And it's not just the U.S. Navy. Adm. Philip Davidson, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in April that Beijing is "stealing technology in just about every domain and trying to use it to their advantage."
China is believed to have been behind multiple cybersecurity breaches that facilitated the theft of significant amounts of data on the F-22 and F-35, among other aircraft. That information is suspected to have played a role in the development of China's new fifth-generation stealth fighters.
Beijing denies that it engages in any form of cyberespionage.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), center, conduct a photo exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships.U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peter
A senior U.S. intelligence official warned Tuesday that concerning Chinese cyber activity in the U.S. is clearly on the rise, and there is evidence that China is targeting critical infrastructure to lay the groundwork for disruptive attacks, Reuters reported.
And U.S. officials say Chinese state hackers are responsible for a data breach at Marriott affecting 500 million customers, according to recent reports. The Trump administration has repeatedly criticized Beijing for the alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property to the tune of several hundred billion dollars a year, one of several sticking points in the ongoing trade spat.
The breaching of the systems of key U.S. defense contractors are particularly problematic as China modernizes its force, building a military able to challenge that of the U.S.
"It's extremely hard for the Defense Department to secure its own systems," Tom Bossert, the former homeland security adviser in the Trump administration, told the Journal. "It's a matter of trust and hope to secure the systems of their contractors and subcontractors."
Contractors and subcontractors across the entire military lack the desired cybersecurity capabilities and regularly suffer serious breaches, an intelligence official said.
The most active Chinese hackers are reportedly a group known as Temp.Periscope or Leviathan, which is focused on maritime interests but also hits other targets.
One defense official told the Journal that China was targeting America's "weak underbelly," calling cybersecurity breaches "an asymmetric way to engage the United States without ever having to fire a round."
Read more from Business Insider:
- China is boosting its undersea-warfare capabilities — and stealing U.S. technology to do so, a U.S. admiral says
- The U.S. and South Korea can't agree on splitting the cost of keeping American troops there, and the US is giving Korean workers a warning
- Hundreds of troops deployed to the US-Mexico border have started heading home, but many more are staying through the holidays
- After a spat with the U.S., Russian bombers in Venezuela carried out drills over the Caribbean
- U.S. forces and Iraqi fighters are facing each other in a 'Wild West situation' on the Iraq-Syria border
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
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The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.
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Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.
For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.
On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."