Maritime Research at Universities Under Attack by Chinese Hackers

2019, Breaches, March

Who: 27 Universities WorldWide

When: 5 March 2019

# of records involved: Targeted 27 Universities World Wide

What happened: Chinese hackers looking to steal maritime military technology and secrets.

How did it happen: The cyber attacks​ were conducted via phishing emails that posed as a legitimate message from other universities seeking research, but were loaded with malicious software.

Outcome: Researchers at iDefense found a substantial list of university targets that reflect the breadth and nature of an elaborate scheme that dates back to at least April 2017 to steal maritime military technology secrets. iDefense found the majority of the universities targeted either house research hubs focused on undersea technology or have faculty on staff with extensive experience in a relevant field. Nearly all have links to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution which also was likely compromised by hackers. The institution is the largest independent oceanographic research institution in the U.S. The Department of the Navy recognizes the serious nature of evolving cyber threats and continuously bolsters the department’s cybersecurity culture and awareness, along with our cyber defenses and information technology capabilities