February 22, 2018

Australia Jet And Navy Data Stolen In 'Extensive' Hack

12 October 2017, 07:21 | Taylor George

Australian Defence Aircraft Data Hacked by “Partner Organisation” in 2016: ACSC

The data stolen in a 2016 breach included technical information on the multi-billion dollar F-35A Joint Strike Fighter program smart bombs and naval vessels

The federal government has admitted it still doesn't know who managed to hack top secret technical information about new fighter jet and navy vessels a year ago.

The minister responsible for cyber security, Dan Tehan, earlier this week announced the breach, without providing details.

A mystery hacker codenamed after a larrikin Australian soap opera character has been revealed as stealing sensitive, high-level information about a $1.1 trillion defence project created by an alliance including Australia, the U.S, United Kingdom and Canada.

"While awareness of cyber-crime is certainly on the rise, so too is the threat that it poses, with the report claiming 47,000 cyber incidents took place in the past 12 months alone".

The admin password, to enter the company's web portal, was "admin" and the guest password was "guest".

The 50-person aerospace engineering firm was compromised in July previous year but the national cyber security agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), only became aware of the breach in November, technology website ZDNet Australia reported.

The three months during which the hackers operated undetected has been dubbed "Alf's Mystery Happy Fun Time" by the ASD, Zdnet reported.

The hackers have been given the code-name Alf, after the Home and Away character Alf Stewart.

The F-35 Lightning, the Joint Strike Fighter.

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In addition to the F-35A program, the attacker obtained restricted technical data on the P-8 Poseidon spy aircraft, the C-130 transport plane, the Joint Direct Attack Munition smart bomb and a number of Australian naval vessels.

The company, which had only one IT person, was subcontracted four levels down from defence contracts. Clarke said that this would have made it easier for the hacker to access all the sensitive data on the firm's servers, because the firm used common username and passwords on every machine in the firm, and once it had the initial passwords, that was all it needed.

Mr Clarke described the security breach as "sloppy admin".

'There's no way this one IT person could have done everything perfectly across the whole domain, ' said Mr Clarke.

A Royal Australian Air Force C130-J Hercules pilot.

Comment has been sought from Mr Tehan and the Defence department.

"While the Australian company is a national-security linked contractor and the information disclosed was commercially sensitive, it was unclassified", they said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

"I don't think you can try and sheet blame for a small enterprise having lax cyber security back to the federal government".

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