Chinese national Su Bin has been sentenced to 46 months jail after admitting his role in stealing information on the Lockheed F-22 and F-35 aircraft, along with Boeing's C-17 cargo plane.
The aviation expert worked with two members of China's military to attack networks of Boeing and US and European defence contractors in order to steal sensitive military and export-controlled data. In emails Bin said the data derived from the attacks would help China "stand easily on the giant's shoulders".
The trio stole gigabytes of data between October 2008 and March 2014 on 32 US projects, including what investigators believed was 220MB relating to the F-22, along with some claimed 630,000 digital files relating to the C-17 cargo plane that amounted to 65GB of data.
Bin pled guilty 23 March to one count of conspiring to gain unauthorised access to a protected computer and to violate the Arms Export Control Act by exporting defense articles on the US Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, the Department of Justice says.
National Security Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin announced the sentencing with Central District of California attorney Eileen M. Decker saying it was a fair sentence.
"Su Bin’s sentence is a just punishment for his admitted role in a conspiracy with hackers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force to illegally access and steal sensitive US military information,” Carlin says.
"Bin assisted the Chinese military hackers in their efforts to illegally access and steal designs for cutting-edge military aircraft that are indispensable to our national defense.
"This prison sentence reinforces our commitment to ensure that hackers, regardless of state affiliation, are held accountable for their criminal conduct.”
Details emerged after his 2014 arrest that Su had advised conspiring Chinese military officers of the people, companies, and technologies to hack.
Bin directed one unnamed officer to retrieve particular files after reviewing directory listings his co-conspirators emailed him.
The hacker admitted reports detailing the stolen data were sent to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Staff Headquarters.
In emails, Bin and his conspirators revealed they previously targeted Tibetan democracy and independence movements but had started hacking military technology targets instead.
The FBI and US Air Force Office of Special Investigations investigated the hack. The case was prosecuted in part by the US Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California’s Terrorism and Export Crimes Section. ®