Airbus under secret-seeking attacks

A series of cyber attacks on Airbus were conducted via the computer systems of its suppliers and contractors. They were targeted during the past few months. Security sources suspect a link to China, AFP news agency reported on Thursday.

Airbus, the world's second-largest aerospace group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. China has repeatedly denied involvement in hacking. Neither the foreign ministry nor China's official cyber regulator responded to requests for comment on the report.

Airbus said last January that a cyber attack on its systems had resulted in a data breach. Last year, U.S. prosecutors said Chinese intelligence officers and hackers stole information about a jet engine. It was being developed by firms who supply Airbus as well as its U.S. rival Boeing.

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According to the AFP report, which cited multiple unnamed security sources, cyber attacks in the past months on Airbus were mounted. This was via French technology consultancy Expleo, engine maker Rolls Royce, and two French Airbus subcontractors which were not identified.

Expleo and Rolls Royce did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Over the past 12 months, Airbus has been targeted by four major cyber attacks, AFP cited one of the sources as saying. Some of the attacks date back further, the report said.

The report cited the sources as saying the hackers appeared to have been seeking information about engines for the A400M military transport aircraft and A350 airliner.

The AFP report did not make clear whether the cyber attacks it described had led to data breaches, or impacted Airbus operations.

It said the security sources have not definitively attributed responsibility for the cyber attacks. However, they said that they bore the hallmarks of groups linked to Chinese intelligence.

Source: Reuters Paris, 26 September 2019

Reporting: Christian Lowe & Ben Blanchard