Nato is assessing the impact of a data breach involving classified military documents that was sold online by a hacker group. The information includes blueprints for weapons used by Nato allies in the Ukraine conflict.
After stealing data linked to a major European weapons manufacturer, criminal hackers are selling the dossiers. MBDA Missile Systems acknowledged that its data was among the cache, but claimed that none of the classified files belonged to the company.
The pan-European company, headquartered in France, stated that its data was stolen from a compromised external hard drive and that it was working with authorities in Italy, where the data breach occurred.
Investigations are said to be centered on one of MBDA’s suppliers.
“We are assessing claims relating to data allegedly stolen from MBDA. We have no indication that any Nato network has been compromised,” a Nato spokesperson said in a statement.
Cyber criminals selling 80GB of stolen data for 15 Bitcoins on Russian and English forums claim to have sold the stash to at least one unknown buyer so far.
One of the stolen folders contains detailed drawings of MBDA Missile Systems equipment, but the company claims that the material is not sensitive.
The hackers claimed to have “classified information about employees of companies that took part in the development of closed military projects,” as well as “design documentation, drawings, presentations, video and photo materials, contract agreements, and correspondence with other companies” in their advertisement for the stolen data.
The BBC obtained a free 50MB sample of the data, which included documents labeled “NATO CONFIDENTIAL,” “NATO RESTRICTED,” and “Unclassified Controlled Information.”
In addition to the sample, the criminals sent additional documents via email, two of which were marked “NATO SECRET.”
Unclassified Controlled Information (UCI) is a US security label for information created or owned by the government that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and government-wide policies.
The hackers refused to say whether the material came from more than one hacked source.
The files, which the BBC has not been able to independently verify, detail a “communications intelligence” mission carried out by a US air squadron over the Baltics at the end of 2020 in Estonia.
It contains call logs, a person’s full name, phone number, and GPS coordinates who is allegedly at the center of the operation.
“There’s a lot of over-classification in Nato but these labels matter. They are applied by the originator of the information and NATO SECRET is not applied lightly. This really is the kind of information Nato doesn’t want out there in the public,” said a former Nato official.
He went on to say that the chances of the documents being declassified were slim, given that the majority of the files appeared to have been created between 2017 and 2020.
A presentation that appeared to detail the inner workings of the Land Ceptor CAMM (Common Anti-Air Modular Missile), including the precise location of the electronic storage unit within it, was also included in the sample files.
One of these was recently delivered to Poland for use as part of the Sky Sabre system in the Ukraine conflict and is now operational.
MBDA Missile Systems has not disputed that its information had been breached but said: “The company’s internal verification processes indicate that the data made available online are neither classified data nor sensitive.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)