A Chinese national has pleaded guilty to charges that he funneled US military aircraft secrets back to his controllers in the Middle Kingdom.
"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 US assistant attorney general for national security General John Carlin.
"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."
Su, 50, and two unnamed accomplices ran a three-year campaign against Boeing and other companies seeking to steal the latest blueprints for US military fighter jets and the C-17 transport aircraft. He faces five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or double whatever profit he made from the deal.
Su, who worked for a Canadian aerospace company, told his two associates which servers to hack, identified the useful information on various projects, translated the English documentation into Chinese, and sent it back to China for financial gain.
According to the plea deal document [PDF], in 2009, Su sent the two associates a list of names of US executives to be targeted and email addresses used by them. The following month, the hackers sent Su a list of files available and he identified the most useful aerospace documents, and continued to advise the two coconspirators of likely useful information.
Following an investigation by the authorities, Su was arrested in Canada in July 2014 and agreed to be extradited to the US last month. He has pled guilty to charges of stealing data listed on the US Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
"Cyber security is a top priority not only for the FBI but the entire US government," said assistant director of the FBI's cyber division Jim Trainor.
"Our greatest strength is when we harness our capabilities to work together, and today's guilty plea demonstrates this. Our adversaries' capabilities are constantly evolving, and we will remain vigilant in combating the cyber threat." ®