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Hacker codenamed 'Alf' from Home and Away stole data from defence subcontractor
12 October 2017, 06:38 | Opal Carroll
Hacker group codenamed 'Alf' after famous Home and Away character steals sensitive information about Australia's multi-billion dollar fighter jet program
Some 30GB of "sensitive data" subjected to restricted access under the U.S. government's International Traffic in Arms Regulations rules were stolen, ASD's Mitchell Clarke told a security conference Wednesday according toZDNet.
Experts at the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) codenamed the hacker "Alf" after the character from the television drama Home and Away.
The small aerospace engineering firm was also using default passwords, he said. "It's just a thing we do", Mr Clarke told his audience, according toreport by BuzzFeed.
Clarke indicated that the attack was "nation state espionage". He said the organisation only had one IT person and that person had only been in the job for a short while.
There was about 30GB of data taken, including ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) data.
Given the name "ATP ALF" - in reference to a +30 year character from the long-running Australian beachside TV program, "Home and Away" - the hacker had managed to sit inside the system of the contractor for months before detection in November 2016, and stole information about programs such as the $17 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project, the C-130 Hercules transport plane and the $4 billion P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft project.
Another document was a wireframe diagram of one of the Australian navy's new ships, where a viewer could "zoom in down to the captain's chair".
The admin password, to enter the company's web portal, was "admin" and the guest password was "guest".
Clarke said the attackers used a tool called China Chopper, which is said to be widely used by Chinese malicious attackers.
Pyne said that the breach did not poorly reflect on the government or on standards it imposed on suppliers to defence contracts.
The Australian Defence Department appears to be in a scramble after Clarke's presentation.
"Today, 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 spokesperson said.
"It is not classified and it is not unsafe in terms of the military", he said.
The federal minister for cybersecurity Dan Tehan revealed the breach earlier this week through the release of the Australian Cyber Security Centre's 2017 Threat Report, but provided no detail specifically about the Alf incident.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said the government is unsure of the identity of the hacker and whether they are state or non-state actor.
"It's not classified information".
"I don't know who did it.it could be one of a number of different actors".
"It could be a state actor, [or] a non-state actor".
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