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F-35 stealth fighter data stolen in Australia defence hack

12 October 2017

"I don't think you can try and sheet blame for a small enterprise having lax cyber security back to the federal government".

Even without this exploit, the company still had used the default username and passwords for many of its logins.

A mystery hacker codenamed after a larrikin Australian soap opera character has been revealed as stealing sensitive, high-level information about a $1.1 trillion defence project created by an alliance including Australia, the U.S, United Kingdom and Canada.

The secret information was restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the United States system created to regulate the export of defence and military-related technologies, according to Mitchell Clarke, an incident response manager at the ASD who worked on the case.

BuzzFeed News has obtained the audio of the presentation from reporter Stilgherrian, and in his presentation Clarke said the aerospace engineering firm in question had around 50 employees with just one IT person, and a "significant amount of data" was stolen over a period of around three months by the Alf hacker, which the ASD called "Alf's Mystery Happy Fun Time".

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Mr Clarke described the security breach as "sloppy admin" and said the organisation only had one IT person.

A hacker group codenamed "Alf" after the Home and Away character has broken into a defence contractor and stolen sensitive data on military projects.

Speaking to ABC Radio National Breakfast, Pyne also confirmed that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and CERT Australia had been tipped off to the breach "by a prime" contractor to Defence.

The hack was discovered by a major Defence contractor.

The data was commercially sensitive but not classified, the government said.

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The incident was a "salutary reminder" about cyber security, he added.

Pyne said there were "upwards of 4000" businesses in Australia that worked in various defence industries.

Last year, the government's Cyber Security Centre revealed that foreign spies installed malicious software on the Bureau of Meteorology's system and stole an unknown number of documents.

"The very fact that people who shouldn't have had access to this information got access should ring alarm bells in the government, but they don't appear to have woken up to this being a problem", he said.

"While presenting at a conference in Sydney, an ASD official (who works for the ACSC) disclosed information about the theft of data from an Australian company", the statement said.

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"Fortunately the data that has been taken is commercial data, not military data", Pyne said.

F-35 stealth fighter data stolen in Australia defence hack