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."
Heavy Industries, Japan's largest defense contractor, said it is possible that
attackers who had breached its networks and infected several machines with
malware had also stolen some sensitive information.
it fell short of an outright admission, the company's statement was a slight
reversal from previous claims that no data had been compromised.
information on the company's products and technology had been moved from one
server to another, and it is possible the data had been transferred out of the
company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said in a statement on Oct. 25. The
a day after Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun cited unnamed sources
who claimed information had been stolen during the attack.
a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries spokesperson had said that although the attackers
had uncovered some data, such as the IP addresses assigned to the systems, there
was "no possibility of any leakage of defense-related information at this
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.
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
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.
criticized the company for not immediately notifying the
government of the breach. "It's up to the defense ministry to decide
whether the information is important. That is not for Mitsubishi Heavy to
decide. A report should have been made," a spokesman for the ministry told
Reuters at the time.
latest revelation comes on the heels of a new report of a cyber-attack on
members of the Japanese Parliament, according to Asahi. Attackers targeted
government computers and a server used by three members of the lower house and
harvested passwords and usernames belonging to approximately 480 members and
staff, according to the report. The stolen credentials had been sent to a
server in China.
is likely that malicious adversaries stealthily monitored sensitive email and
documents without being detected for at least a month. It also appears that the
initial compromise happened in July when one of the members opened an email
with a malicious Trojan attached to the message.
is still no real evidence linking the Parliament attack to the Chinese
government just because the server was based in China, according to Graham
Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos. "That fact alone is not
a convincing reason to blame China for the attack," Cluley wrote on the
Naked Security blog, noting that the attacker could have been acting alone
without government or military backing. Another likely scenario is that
perpetrators could have easily compromised servers around the world and this
just happened to be in China.
just as possible that a hacker in, say, New Zealand placed his malware on a
compromised Chinese server," Cluley said.
expressed a similar concern for more "real" evidence last month when
local Japanese media reported that Chinese script was found in one of the
Trojans found on Mitsubishi Heavy systems.