BEIJING — For almost two years, hackers based in Shanghai went after one foreign defense contractor after another, at least 20 in all. Their target, according to a U.S. cybersecurity company that monitored the attacks, was the technology behind the clear U.S. lead in military drones.
“I believe this is the largest campaign we’ve seen that has been focused on drone technology,” said Darien Kindlund, manager of threat intelligence at the California-based company, FireEye. “It seems to align pretty well with the focus of the Chinese government to build up their own drone technology capabilities.”
The hacking operation, conducted by a group called “Comment Crew” — which another cybersecurity company said has ties to the People’s Liberation Army — was one of the most recent signs of the ambitions of China’s drone development program. While Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have said China does not sanction hacking and is itself a victim, the government and military are still striving to put China at the forefront of drone manufacturing, for their own use and for export, and have made an all-out push to gather domestic and international technology to support the program.
Ian Easton, a military analyst at the Project 2049 Institute in Virginia, said cyberespionage was one tool in an extensive effort over years to purchase or develop drones domestically using all available technology, foreign and domestic.
Chinese engineers and officials have done reverse engineering, studied open source material and debriefed U.S. drone experts who attend conferences in China. “This can save them years of design work and mistakes,” Easton said.
For the Obama administration and U.S. business executives, no method of Chinese technology acquisition is more worrisome than cyberespionage. A U.S. official confirmed that drone technology had been stolen by hackers.
FireEye called the drone theft campaign Operation Beebus, traced to a command-and-control node at bee.businessconsults.net. Cybersecurity experts say that address and tools linked to it are associated with the “Comment Crew,” the Chinese hacker unit that Mandiant, another cybersecurity company, discussed in a report in February. Mandiant said the group was part of Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army.
From his position at the back of the group of armored vehicles, Derek Butenhoff saw the cloud of smoke, and then all radio communication was momentarily lost. It was day three of a four-day bomb-seeking mission in southern Afghanistan. Butenhoff ran to the smoking combat vehicle. Inside, he found his best friend: Alex Johnson, a 19-year-old soldier from Madras. “The truck was on its side,…
The holiest plant of the Christmas season may be a raggedy shrub with peeling bark that seems to grow best in a dusty backyard in Tempe, Ariz. This is Boswellia sacra, better known as the frankincense tree. The shrub’s gum resin is one of the three biblical gifts that the wise men bestowed on the infant Jesus. Until recently, Americans who wished to cultivate their…
McMINNVILLE — Dozens of local veterans are featured in a new book created by U. S. history students at McMinnville High School. “An Interview with History: A Unique Collection of Wartime Experiences” started as an oral history collaboration between teacher Francesca Morrison’s class and the Yamhill County Historical Society. But with help from the Evergreen Aviation&Space Museum and a number of individuals — including the…
Lightning is one of the main causes of wildfires in Central Oregon, but there is often a calm between the strike and ensuing firestorm. Take the flurry of fires in and around the Warm Springs Indian Reservation that flared up the last weekend of August, four days after a thunderstorm crackled over Central Oregon. Firefighters call such slow-starting fires “holdover” fires, said Lisa Clark, spokeswoman…
FRESNO, Calif. — Federal law now allows visitors to carry guns in national parks, but you can’t just slip a loaded pistol into your backpack and take a hike. Pay attention, because this is a little complicated. You will need a concealed weapons permit to carry the loaded gun in the backpack. But you don’t need any kind of permit if you just want to…