Chinese man indicted over theft of Boeing C-17 secrets

Su Bin is accused of working with two others to steal gigabytes of U.S. defense-related documents

Su Bin

Su Bin

A Chinese man has been indicted for allegedly directing two China-based hackers to infiltrate Boeing and other defense contractors to steal gigabytes of documents describing US military aircraft.

Su Bin, a Chinese national in his late 40s, was indicted in the US District Court for the Central District of California on charges of unauthorized computer access, conspiracy, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and aiding and abetting. He was arrested in Canada in June.

Su allegedly worked with two unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators between 2009 and 2013 to obtain documents related to planes such as the C-17, a cargo aircraft, and the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, according to the indictment.

Su, who ran a China-based aviation company called Lode Technology, is accused of trying to sell the information to state-owned companies in China and other entities.

Curiously, Su and the co-conspirators in part used free email accounts such as Gmail to communicate, which likely gave law enforcement a broad view into their alleged actions. U.S. prosecutors can obtain such communications with a court order.

Excerpts of the emails were included in an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Noel A. Neeman, which is contained in Su's court file.

An August 2012 email from one of the China-based hackers to the other one describes a painstaking, year-long 2.7 million yuan ($439,000) effort that successfully stole 85 GB of information about the C-17, including electronic cable wiring documents and detailed schematics.

Boeing's network is "extremely complex," the hacker wrote, adding the company has layers of security equipment including firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems.

The emails also provided insight into general methods the hackers used. To avoid diplomatic and legal problems, stolen documents were sent to servers in other countries, such as South Korea and Singapore, before being moved to Hong Kong or Macao, according to another email sent from co-conspirator #1 to co-conspirator #2.

From those locales, "the intelligence is always picked up and transferred to China in person," the email said.

Neeman's affidavit said that while the "success and scope" of the operation could have been exaggerated, there was evidence that it was successful "to some degree." His affidavit does not speculate if the co-conspirators are Chinese government employees.

The U.S. and China have traded sharp accusations over hacking in recent months, with each accusing the other of government-sanctioned intrusions.

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a criminal indictment against five members of Chinese Army signal intelligence Unit 61398 with stealing nuclear, solar power and steel trade secrets from six U.S. organizations over eight years. China vehemently denied the accusations.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cybercrimelegalU.S. Department of JusticeCriminal

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?