According to reports, the Pentagon has been subject to a successful hacking attack with details of the F35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter and the most expensive jet fighter ever, the target.

Apparently, design data including that of the $300 billion jet project electronics system, have been stolen. Several terabytes of data in all are said to have been successfully stolen from a computer system that deals with in-flight maintenance fault diagnosis. Insiders say that the attacks have originated in China, but this has unsurprisingly been ferociously denied by Chinese government officials. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry told the Telegraph newspaper that "China has always been against hacking and we have cracked down very hard on hacking." While the Chinese Embassy in Washington said it was all "a product of the Cold War mentality" designed to inflame political opinion against China. Certainly China has something of a history when it comes to allegations of cyber espionage.

However, whoever was behind the hack may have got some useful material that could, in theory, make it easier to defend against attacks by the plane they have not got any data on the most sensitive areas of the F35 as these are all held on computers with no physical connection to the Internet. It is believed that the attackers got hold of the data they did manage to steal by exploiting network vulnerabilities through a number of contractors working on the project.

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About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to Forbes.com, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...