A Chinese businessman pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to hack computer systems held by U.S. defense contractors for the purpose of stealing vital military information and export-controlled data with the intention of submitting it to China.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, Su Bin, 50, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with Judge Christina A. Snyder reigning over the proceeding. Su faces up to five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the crime, depending on which is greater.
In 2014, authorities ascertained that Su, a businessman in the aviation and aerospace sectors, was involved in an attempt to steal secret information related to the Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft and other fighters manufactured for U.S. armed forces.
U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said—according to the statement issued by Justice Department—Bin admitted to authorities that he was largely involved in the effort to steal data relating to the U.S. military, including “data relating to military aircraft that are indispensable in keeping our military personnel safe.”
“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,” Carlin said, according to the statement. “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.”
According to the statement, Su said in his plea agreement that he and two other individuals who were also based in China worked to steal the military information from the computer systems of various companies holding important U.S. military information, including Boeing.
Su’s role in the effort was to instruct the co-conspirators on which companies, technologies, and/or people to target. One of the individuals would then hack into the companies, and email Su a description of what files were accessed. Using this information, Su would select the folder that he felt needed to be stolen, and then instruct the co-conspirators to commit the crime. Once stolen, the files were sent to Su so that he could translate the data to Chinese. Each of the three individuals wrote and submitted reports on the information they stole.
Su said that he committed the crime for profit.
The sentence hearing is scheduled for July 13, 2016, with Snyder slated to preside.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense