Officials are investigating a series of four cyberattacks against Airbus suppliers Rolls-Royce, French technology consultancy Expleo, and two separate French contractors working for the aerospace manufacturer, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports. Sources suspect Chinese attackers are behind the incidents; however, investigators have not confirmed attribution.
Airbus' technology has made it an appealing target for cyberattacks. In January, for example, it reported a security incident led to unauthorized data access. Now it seems adversaries are trying to steal trade secrets in a broader operation targeting suppliers.
Expleo's systems appear to have been breached before an attack was discovered at the end of 2018. The company would neither "confirm nor deny" it had been targeted; however, a source spoke with AFP on condition of anonymity. Intruders reportedly launched an advanced attack to gain access to the VPN connecting Expleo with Airbus. Other supplier-focused attacks used similar tactics: one affected a British subsidiary of Expleo; another hit Rolls-Royce.
Sources say the attackers may be after technical documents related to certification of Airbus plane components; they were also interested in Airbus passenger plane propulsion systems and avionics systems. Some of the stolen files held data on Airbus military transport plane engines.
No sources could name who might be behind the attacks. They suspect China may be to blame, citing its previous attempts to steal commercial data and struggles in airplane certification.
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