Hackers Strike Mitsubishi Japan

Jay Decenella, IT audit expert
September 19, 2011 /

Following the August release of a white paper by Japan’s defense ministry urging vigilance against cyber crime, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, the country’s biggest defense contractor, has become the first victim of a cyber attack on the industry.

Mitsubishi, which is in talks with Hitachi Ltd. over a possible merger of some businesses, admitted on Monday that hackers had gained access to 38 of its computers and targeted its 45 network servers across ten facilities in Japan.

Hackers targeted its submarine manufacturing plant in Kobe and the Nagoya Guidance & Propulsion System Works, makers of engine parts for missiles.

In a statement, Mitsubishi said that it found some system information such as IP addresses having been leaked.

However, a spokesperson from Mitsubishi said “there is no possibility of any leakage of defense-related information at this point.”

“We can’t rule out small possibilities of further information leakage but so far crucial data about our products or technologies have been kept safe,” the spokesperson said.

The cyber attack is the first such crime against Japan’s defense industry, which the company initially spotted last month. The investigation is expected to turn out results by end of September.

Last month, the Japanese defense ministry urged companies to be vigilant against cyber attacks following a series of high-profile online assaults that recently hit Lockheed Martin and other U.S. defense contractors.

Speculations pinpointed China as the point of origin of these attacks.

According to a Yomiuri newspaper, almost 80 virus-infected computers were found at the company’s Tokyo headquarters as well as manufacturing and research and development sites, including Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works, Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works and Nagoya Guidance & Propulsion System Works.

Kobe Shipyard is involved in building submarines and making components to build nuclear power stations. The Nagasaki Shipyard makes escort ships, while the Nagoya plant makes guided missiles and rocket engines.

The paper added that at least eight different pieces of malware including Trojan horse that stole data from infected computers, were discovered at Mitsubishi’s main office or production sites.

Mitsubishi is Japan’s biggest defense contractor, with 215 deals worth 260 billion yen ($3.4 billion) won from Japan’s Ministry of Defense in the year to last March, equivalent to almost a quarter of the ministry’s expenditures during that year.

In addition to surface-to-air Patriot missiles and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles in its manufacturing, Mitsubishi Heavy has also been working closely with Boeing in making wings for its 787 Dreamliner jets.


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