A Chinese national, Su Bin, 50, plead guilty on Wednesday for his role in a conspiracy to hack into the computers of US defence contractors, steal their data, and send it to back to China, according to a Department of Justice release.
Su Bin, a professional in the aviation and aerospace field would direct co-conspirators as to what persons, companies, or technologies to infiltrate.
Once they had gained access, the hackers would send SU directory file listings and folders that showed the data they turned up.
Su would then simply select the files he wanted, translate them from English into Chinese, and then distribute the files back in china.
Specifically, Su plead guilty to stealing information on “C-17 strategic transport aircraft and certain fighter jets produced for the US military,” which could possibly include the US’ fifth-generation fighter aircraft, the F-22 and F-35.
“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 in the release.
Over the past few years, China’s air force has made surprising strides towards developing a world-class fleet of planes. Their success in designing and building modern aircraft has lead to speculation about their stealing trade secrets from the US.
“I think they will eventually be on par with our fifth-gen jets — as they should be, because industrial espionage is alive and well,” an unnamed senior US fighter pilot familiar with the F-35, told USNI News of China’s rapidly advancing air force.
“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,” added Carlin.
Su plead guilty to conspiring with two others in China from October 2008 to March 2014 to illegally hack into computers belonging to Boeing to steal sensitive military information after a criminal complaint was originally filed in 2014.
Su faces a maximum of 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of his financial gain, or the victim’s loss caused by his criminal activities, whichever is greater.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.