Chinese citizen pleads guilty to trying to hack F-22 data

An F-22 "pops flares" during flight. (USAF)

A Chinese national has pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to hack US military secrets- including data on the F-22.

According to the Department of Justice, 50-year-old Su Bin is believed to have been the “middle man” for a group targeting data concerning weapons, cargo planes and fighter aircraft, such as the F-22 Raptor.

DOJ reports that Su sought financial gain from acquiring and translating the information, though they stopped short of implicating the Chinese government in the hack.

“Su Bin admitted to playing an important role in a conspiracy, originating in China, to illegally access sensitive military data, including data relating to military aircraft that are indispensable in keeping our military personnel safe,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “This plea sends a strong message that stealing from the United States and our companies has a significant cost; we can and will find these criminals and bring them to justice.  The National Security Division remains sharply focused on disrupting cyber threats to the national security, and we will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of those who seek to undermine our security.”

Su admits to working with two Chinese nationals from 2008 to 2014, attempting to gain unauthorized access to US military contractors such as Boeing, as well as other California-based firms.

Upon receipt of information, the DOJ says Su would translate the information and sell it back to buyers on Chinese soil for a profit.

Su’s plea agreement makes clear that the information he and his co-conspirators intentionally stole included data listed on the U.S. Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest.  Judge Snyder is scheduled to sentence Su on July 13, 2016.

The case is currently being investigated by the Los Angeles FBI’s Cyber Division with help from the US Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations.

 

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