German Maker of Israeli Submarines Says Secrets Stolen in 'Massive' Cyberattack

ThyssenKrupp corporation, which owns shipyards making Israel's new submarines, is currently embroiled in scandal involving Netanyahu's personal lawyer.

A new submarine (behind) built for the Israeli Navy at the dite of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in Kiel, northern Germany on April 25, 2013
AFP

ThyssenKrupp, the German maker of Israel's new fleet of submarines, has been the victim of a "massive" cyberattack, the company said Thursday.

In response to a question from Haaretz, ThyssenKrupp said that the cyberattack did not affect any of its naval projects, including those linked to Israel.

The company, which owns the shipyards now building new warships for Israel, has been in the center of a scandal in recent weeks involving Netanyahu's personal lawyer and the role he might have played in Israel's deal to buy the submarines.

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Technical trade secrets were stolen earlier this year in the hack, the steelmaker said on Thursday. "ThyssenKrupp has become the target of a massive cyberattack," the German company said in a statement. 

In attacks discovered in April and traced back to February, hackers stole project data from ThyssenKrupp's plant engineering division and from other areas yet to be determined, the company said.

Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out after a visit inside the Rahav, the fifth submarine in the fleet, after it arrived in Haifa port January 12, 2016
REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel has bought submarines from ThyssenKrupp for billions of dollars. Iran, which indirectly owns stock in the group, has received the equivalent of tens of millions of euros in dividends from ThyssenKrupp, a Haaretz investigation of the company's financial reports revealed.

ThyssenKrupp, one of the world's largest steel makers, attributed the breaches to unnamed attackers located in southeast Asia. It did not identify which documents were stolen and said it could not estimate the scale of the intellectual property losses.

A criminal complaint was filed with police in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, it said.

Secured systems operating steel blast furnaces and power plants in Duisburg, in Germany's industrial heartland in the Ruhr Valley, were unaffected, the company said.

No breaches have been found at other businesses ranging from elevators to its marine systems unit, which produces military submarines and warships.

ThyssenKrupp is a major supplier of steel to Germany's automotive sector and other manufacturers.

It said the attack was uncovered by ThyssenKrupp's in house computer emergency response team. State and federal cyber security and data protection authorities were informed.

The management board was made aware of the attacks at an early stage, it said.