Airbus, the European aerospace giant, fell victim to a series of cyberattacks by hackers who were trying to gain access to the company’s commercial secrets.
Due to the sensitive nature of the issue, security and industry sources chose to remain anonymous but have confirmed that four major attacks took place over the past 12 months.
It has been suspected that China was linked to the attacks however, China has repeatedly denied involvement in the hacking. The foreign ministry and China’s official cyber regulator have not responded to any requests for comment on the matter.
One of the sources said that engines and avionics were “areas in which Chinese research and development is weak”.
Last January, Airbus said that a cyberattack took place on its systems which in turn, resulted in a data breach. The US prosecutors at the time aid that Chinese intelligence officers were responsible for the attack and that they stole information about some major technologies that were being developed by other firms who were supplying Airbus.
The AFP report mentioned that the aforementioned anonymous sources believed that the attacks throughout the past few months on Airbus were initiated via Expleo, Rolls Royce and two of Airbus’s French subcontractors which were not disclosed.
Rolls Royce and Expleo are yet to provide comments on the matter.
A Rolls Royce spokesperson stated, “We have experience of attempts to gain access to our network and we have a team of experts who work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure that we combat these attempts and minimize any potential impact.”
Romain Bottan, an aerospace security specialist from BoostAerospace, stated the intrusions showed that hackers were seeking out weak links in the chain to compromise Airbus’s systems.
“Very large companies are very well-protected, It’s hard to pirate them, so smaller companies are a better target,” said Bottan.