Hackers targetted Japan’s new hypersonic missile system, leaked data

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Hackers target Japanese next-gen missile, leak details of the missile requirements

Japan’s defense ministry is investigating a hack attack on Japan’s next-generation hypersonic missile system. Hackers leaked details of a new state-of-the-art missile after hacking the webservers of Mitsubishi Electric Corp, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The hack attack was done by unknown hackers who stole the next-gen hypersonic missile’s performance requirements that were sent to several defense contractors including Mitsubishi Electric. It is a normal practice in democratic countries to invite bids for defense equipment by sending them request-for-proposal (RFP). These RFPs detail the specifications and the requirements the government has for selecting the potential winner of the project.

The hackers targetted this particular RFP during the hack attack and stole documents the hypersonic missile requirements which were sent to Mitsubishi Electric. The Japan’s defense ministry suspects state-sponsored hack attack on Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi Electric said it was investigating the report but had no other immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. Mitsubishi did not win the bid for the prototype.

The new hypersonic missile Japan plans to build and deploy has next-gen capabilities like hunting down an incoming missile or aircraft and shoot it down. It will also have the capability to attack and destroy aircraft-carrier ships. This type of hypersonic missile is already deployed by countries like the United States, China, and Russia and has a range in upwards of 500 KM. The hypersonic missile flies at supersonic speeds over long distances and evades enemy radar systems and missile defense networks to make precision strikes. The RFP for this project was floated in 2018.

In March this year, the Japanese government announced plans to develop two classes of hypersonic weapons: Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM) and the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP). While the hypersonic cruise missile would have a scramjet engine, the latter would feature a solid-fuel rocket engine that will boost its warhead payload to a high altitude before separation, where it will then glide to its target using its altitude to maintain high velocity until impact. Japan is developing the hypersonic missile grid to especially target the growing Chinese threat of aircraft carriers.

Japan has been a target of North Korea sponsored hacker groups like Bureau 121, and Lazarus hacking subgroups like Andariel and Bluenoroff.  These hacking groups target South Korea, Japan, and Western countries through hack attacks, malware, and other threat vectors. It is not known whether the Japan hypersonic missile hack was by any of these groups but Japan’s defense ministry suspects a state-sponsored hack attack.

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