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Chinese hackers break into US military contractor systems

Confidential US military information has been compromised by Chinese-backed hackers that have broken into the computer networks of the airline, shipping and IT companies that transport US weapons and military personnel.

Related: US urges China to end hacking, consider reputation (opens in new tab)

A report by the US Senate Armed Services Committee found that there were 20 breaches between June 2012 and May 2013, and it isn't at all confident that the hacking is letting up.

"Do I have confidence that the Chinese are stopping? No," Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the panel, told Bloomberg (opens in new tab). "Do we have determination that we're going to take steps to defend ourselves against these intrusions? Yes."

In response to the report the Defense Department commented it is taking the findings "very seriously" and is already working towards plugging the "gaps" as "this is a very high priority for the department".

A total of 12 contractors were breached by Chinese sources and the report neither confirmed nor denied whether or not any information was actually stolen in any of the raids.

There is also no detail on the companies involved except for a statement from FedEx stressing the integrity of its systems are strong enough to prevent illicit access and removal of information.

"We have a dedicated group of information security professionals whose sole responsibility is to protect our systems and the information contained in them," said Melissa Charbonneau, a company spokesperson. "We are confident in the integrity and safety of our systems, including those supportive of our government contracts."

On the other side of the fence, Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, poured scorn on the findings and reiterated that China's laws expressly forbid all types of cybercrime.

"Judging from past experience, those kinds of reports and allegations are usually based on fabricated facts and groundless," Shuang said in an e-mail.

This isn't even the first time this year that China has stood accused of hacking into US company computers and five Chinese military officials were charged back in May on allegations that they hacked into private companies and stole sensitive data.

Related: The Chinese hacking empire: Don’t believe the hype

On that occasion no one was sent over to the US to face justice and it appears unlikely that anything will happen this time except for strong words from both sides.Porthole Ad

Jamie is a freelance writer with over eight years experience writing for online audiences about technology and other topics. In his time writing for ITProPortal he wrote daily news stories covering the IT industry and the worldwide technology market, as well as features that covered every part of the IT market, from the latest start ups to multinational companies and everything encompassed by the IT sector. He has also written tech content for our sister publication, TechRadar Pro. Jamie has since moved into sports betting content and is Content Manager at Betbull.