Chinese hackers believed to be linked to Beijing conducted dozens of cyberattacks on US defense contractors between 2012 and 2013, potentially compromising military operations, a congressional probe warned Wednesday.
A study by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that hackers gained access to systems run by companies doing contract work for the US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) at least 50 times in a one-year period ending May 30, 2013.
But the probe by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that officials of the U.S. Transportation Command, responsible for moving troops and goods across the globe, were told about just two of those incidents. If a system was compromised, military officers might not have known, the panel said.
Transportation Command makes extensive use of passenger and cargo airlines as well as ship operators, and its leadership has acknowledged its communications with outside companies make it the part of the military most vulnerable to cyberattack.
Of the 20 major breaches, TRANSCOM had been made aware of just two of them, a “troubling finding” according to the report.
“Information about these threats isn’t getting where it needs to go,” Levin said.
Some 90 percent of US military personnel are transported on private airlines, and Senator James Inhofe, the committee’s top Republican, warned that the hacks had the potential to “disrupt our mission readiness” by compromising such companies, particularly during national emergencies.
The hacking has apparently occurred for years. Between 2008 and 2010, for example, a “Chinese military intrusion” into a TRANSCOM contractor compromised emails, documents, computer code and passwords, the report said.