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European Missile Maker MBDA Denies Hackers Breached Systems

European missile maker MBDA has denied that its systems have been breached after cybercriminals offered to sell data allegedly stolen from the company’s systems.

A joint venture between aerospace and defense giants Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, MBDA is a European group that designs and produces missiles and missile systems. The company provides its products to air, sea and land forces in Spain, Italy, France, the UK, the US, and Germany.

In late July, a threat actor calling itself ‘Adrastea’ and describing itself as ‘a group of independent specialists and researchers in the field of cybersecurity’ claimed on several cybercrime forums that it had exploited critical vulnerabilities in MBDA systems and gained access to the company’s files.

The cybercriminals claimed to have obtained roughly 60 Gb of data, including files describing military projects, as well as information related to commercial activities, such as design documentation, multimedia materials, contracts, and messages exchanged with other companies. The files have been up for sale. 

On August 1, MBDA issued a statement in several languages, confirming that files have been stolen, but denying that its systems have been breached by hackers.

“MBDA is the subject of a blackmail attempt by a criminal group that falsely claims to have hacked the company’s information networks. Following the company’s refusal to yield to this blackmail threat and pay a ransom demand, the criminal group has spread information on the internet, making it accessible for a payment,” the missile maker said in its statement.

The company has contacted Italian authorities and says it plans on taking ‘all possible legal action’ against the perpetrators.

MBDA claims that its secure networks have not been hacked. Instead, the attackers allegedly obtained the data from an external hard drive. The company’s investigation is ongoing, but it currently claims that the data made available by the hackers does not appear to be classified or sensitive.

It’s unclear how the data from an external drive became compromised. It’s possible the attackers gained access to an employee’s personal device, to which the drive was connected at some point, or they may have acquired the actual drive somehow. Studies have shown that secondhand storage drives often contain the previous owner’s data.

SecurityWeek has reached out to MBDA for clarifications, but the company said it cannot share any information while the official investigation is underway. 

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.