A hacker broke into defence contractor Austal then made an extortion attempt

The Littoral Combat Ship built by Austal. Supplied
  • Austal, a supplier of ships to the Australian and US navies, has reported a data breach and extortion attempt.
  • The company’s data management systems in Australia were hacked but systems in the US were unaffected.
  • The hackers then offered the information for sale on the internet.

Defence contractor Austal, which builds ships for the Royal Australian Navy, the United States Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman, has detected a breach of the company’s data management systems in Australia.

The hackers then demanded money from the Perth-based company in return for the stolen data.

“Following the breach the offender purported to offer certain materials for sale on the internet and engage in extortion,” the company says.

“The company has not and will not respond to the extortion attempts.”

The company says Austal’s business in the US, where it makes the littoral combat ship for the US Navy, is unaffected by the breach because the computer systems between the two countries are not linked.

Austal, which has shipyards in Western Australia, the US and the Philippines, has referred the hack to the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Australian Federal Police.

“No company wants to lose control of its information, but there is no evidence to date to suggest that information affecting national security nor the commercial operations of the company have been stolen,” the company says.

“Ship design drawings which may be distributed to customers and fabrication sub-contractors or suppliers are neither sensitive nor classified.”

Austal says the security and integrity of the company’s data systems have been restored.

“A small number of stakeholders who were potentially directly impacted have been informed,” the company says.

“The data breach has had no impact on Austal’s ongoing operations. Austal’s business in the United States is unaffected by this issue as the computer systems are not linked.

“Some staff email addresses and mobile phone numbers were accessed and these staff members have been informed accordingly.”

The Office of the Australian Information Commission has been informed.

Austal in August reported full year revenue of $1.39 billion, up 6%, and a 154% surge in net profit after tax of $39 million.