Chinese hackers stole “massive amounts of highly sensitive data” from a U.S. Navy contractor tasked with developing supersonic anti-ship submarine missiles, according to reports.
The missile project, titled “Sea Dragon,” along with submarine cryptographic systems, was part of the 614 gigabytes of sensitive information stolen by China.
“The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation,” reports the Washington Post. “The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, R.I., that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry.”
Pentagon officials would not name the government contractor.
Following the Post‘s report, Defense Secretary James Mattis directed the Pentagon’s Inspector General to investigate the incident.
“There are measures in place that require companies to notify the government when a ‘cyber incident’ has occurred that has actual or potential adverse effects on their networks that contain controlled unclassified information,” a Navy spokesman said.
“It would be inappropriate to discuss further details at this time,” he added.
Beijing’s expanded presence in the South China Sea has prompted U.S. Navy officials to develop new weapons such as supersonic anti-ship missiles.
“U.S. naval forces are going to have a really hard time operating in that area, except for submarines, because the Chinese don’t have a lot of anti-submarine warfare capability,” Bryan Clark, a naval researcher at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told the Post.
“The idea is that we are going to rely heavily on submarines in the early effort of any conflict with the Chinese,” Clark added.