Chinese hacker who stole information on US military jets jailed

Su Bin stole confidential data belonging to US defense contractors for clients in China.

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Symantec

A Chinese national has been thrown behind bars after admitting to his part in a year-long conspiracy to steal valuable technical data belonging to military and defense contractors in the United States.

Su Bin, a 51-year-old aviation specialist, pleaded guilty in March to a conspiracy to break into US contractor systems in order to steal sensitive military and "export-controlled" data. Once network defenses were breached and this information ended up in his hands, the data was given to clients in China.

Also known as "Stephen Su" and "Steven Subin," the Chinese national was arrested in 2014 for his role, which also included telling co-conspirators -- believed to be military officers in China -- who the best marks were, which files needed to be stolen, and why the information was valuable to China's military and government.

On Wednesday, US prosecutors said Su Bin has been given a jail term of 46 months in a federal prison.

Su pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer and to violate the Arms Export Control Act by exporting defense articles on the US Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

As part of Su's trial, the Chinese national also admitted that computers belonging to Boeing -- a contractor tasked with producing jets for the US military -- were targeted.

Information concerning C-17 strategic transport aircraft and specific military fighter jets were of particular interest to the Su and his co-conspirators.

"Su Bin's sentence is a just punishment for his admitted role in a conspiracy with hackers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force to illegally access and steal sensitive U.S. military information," said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. "Su assisted the Chinese military hackers in their efforts to illegally access and steal designs for cutting-edge military aircraft that are indispensable to our national defense.

These activities have serious consequences for the national security of our country and the safety of the men and women of our armed services. This prison sentence reinforces our commitment to ensure that hackers, regardless of state affiliation, are held accountable for their criminal conduct."

The sentence was announced by US District Judge Christina Snyder of the Central District of California.