Cyber-attack stole Mitsubishi warplane, nuke plant data

October 24, 2011

Sensitive information concerning vital defense equipment, such as fighter jets, as well as nuclear power plant design and safety plans, apparently was stolen from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. computers during a cyber-attack in August, sources said.

An internal investigation found signs that the information had been transmitted outside the company's computer network, with the strong possibility that an outsider was involved.

This is the first time that sources have acknowledged that defense and nuclear plant information may have leaked from Mitsubishi Heavy's computers due to a computer virus, despite the company saying it had taken appropriate safeguard measures.

The computers were found to have been hacked in August, and 83 computers were found to have been infected with a virus. Those computers were spread out over 11 locations, including the Kobe and Nagasaki shipyards that construct submarines and destroyers as well as the Nagoya facility that is in charge of manufacturing a guided missile system.

At that time, Mitsubishi Heavy officials said no confirmation had been made that information related to products or clients had leaked.

According to sources, a further investigation into dozens of computers at other locations found evidence that information about defense equipment and nuclear power plants had been transmitted from those computers to outside the company.

The defense information is related to the fighter jets and helicopters that Mitsubushi Heavy manufactures for the Defense Ministry. Officials said they were uncertain if any confidential defense information was included in the leaked data.

Sources said the nuclear plant information included data on nuclear plant design and nuclear equipment, as well as anti-quake measures.

When entering into contracts with companies that handle sensitive defense information, the Defense Ministry asks that the company implement measures such as establishing regulations on internal information management as well as isolating confidential information from other computer networks.

An official at the Mitsubishi Heavy group handling public relations said the company had taken appropriate measures in handling confidential information.

The official refrained from commenting on whether any information related to defense equipment or nuclear power plants had leaked.

Mitsubishi Heavy submitted a complaint to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department about damage to its computer system in late September. The police are investigating computer records to determine where the data originated from.

Mitsubishi Heavy has been involved in the design and construction of many pressurized water reactors in Japan, including the Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co.

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