A newfound data breach of 160 South Korean firms and government agencies has put unclassified U.S. fighter jet blueprints in the hands of North Korean hackers, government officials in Seoul announced Monday.
The attackers — reportedly using an IP address tied to a computer located in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang — targeted network management software, South Korean police said in a press briefing Monday. The police declined to name the hacked software product.
The broader hack reportedly went on for about two years before South Korea discovered it in February, ultimately resulting in the leak of more than 42,000 documents held by a myriad of organizations, including South Korean military manufacturer Korean Air Lines. Of the documents stolen, the vast majority are defense related.
The State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues and the House Committee on Homeland Security both declined to comment for this story.
South Korean police told Reuters and The Wall Street Journal the hackers were planning a much larger cyberattack campaign that would have impacted countless firms nationwide by infecting devices with malware. That strategy, however, was disrupted as a result of recent revelations, officials say.
Some of the military aircraft schematics are for the wings of an American F-15 fighter jet.
Several South Korean media outlets are reporting that two groups — the SK Group and Hanjin Shipping conglomerates — held the American F-15 blueprints. Meanwhile, police officials have also declined to confirm that aspect of the breach, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Spokespeople for the SK Group and the Hanjin Shipping have already confirmed they were affected by the breach but explained that their compromised documents were not classified.
Additionally, Reuters spoke with an unnamed South Korean Defense Ministry official who said “none of the defense-related materials stolen [are] secret.”