Hackers targeted tech firms behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile system

29 Jul 2014

While the crisis in Gaza continues, a report says hackers operating out of China hacked and plundered data from at least three top Israeli technology companies responsible for building Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.

US threat intelligence firm Cyber Engineering Services found that between 2011 and 2013 the hackers hacked into the corporate networks of Elisra Group, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and exfiltrated large amounts of data.

The data related to Arrow III missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), ballistic rockets and other technical documents, according to a report by Krebs on Security.

Iron Dome has been credited with intercepting one-fifth of the 2,000 rockets Palestinian militants fired at Israel during the conflict.

It is understood that US Congress is debating legislation to send US$350m to Israel to further develop Iron Dome, bringing to US$1bn the amount the US has contributed to the system in the last five years.

According to Krebs’ report, the attack bore the hallmarks of Comment Crew, a state-sponsored hacking group associated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

This is the same Shanghai-based group pinpointed by Mandiant (FireEye) earlier this year as being behind a large percentage of attacks on US corporations and government agencies.

In the case of the attack on Israel Aerospace Industries, hackers were able to sit inside the network and post Trojan Horse viruses over the course of four months in 2012.

During that time, some 700 files amounting to 763MB of data, including Word files, spreadsheets, PDFs and .EXE files, were stolen.

Hackers also broke into Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary Elisra in 2011 and remained inside the network for more than a year, stealing data from email belonging to C-level executives.

It is understood Elisra had contracts to supply electronic warfare systems to South Korea and other countries.

Iron Dome image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years