Chinese businessman Su Bin admitted to stealing U.S. military secrets and exporting them to the communist nation between 2008 and 2014, with the help of two unnamed hackers.
The stolen information was mostly about the military F-22s, F-35 and Boeing’s C-17 cargo aircraft. It was apparently translated into Chinese by the 50-year-old businessman and delivered to his contacts. Arrested in July 2014 in Canada and brought to the U.S. in February, Su Bin pleaded guilty and, instead of facing 30 years behind bars, was only sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Su’s “guilty plea and conviction demonstrate that these criminals can be held accountable no matter where they are located in the world and that we are deeply committed to protecting our sensitive data in order to keep our nation safe,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker.
The United States has become increasingly worried about Chinese government cyber espionage capabilities, especially when dealing with sensitive and critical military information. Last year’s report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission specifically mentioned that the U.S. government lacks adequate cyber defenses against sophisticated threats from the Chinese government.
“The United States is ill prepared to defend itself from cyber espionage when its adversary is determined, centrally coordinated, and technically sophisticated, as is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and government,” reads the report. “The design of the Internet—developed in the United States to facilitate open communication between academia and government, and eventually expanded to include commercial opportunities—leaves it particularly vulnerable to spies and thieves.”
The report concludes that massive cyber espionage campaigns sponsored by the Chinese government target not only the U.S. government, but all U.S. corporations, and that trade secrets and intellectual property are at risk because of such attacks.