German steel manufacturer ThyssenKrupp has been hacked in a major cyberattack, coordinated by unnamed malicious actors based in south-east Asia. The large-scale attack was targeted at the German firm to steal its technical trade secrets.
According to a statement [German] from Martin Hölze, CIO at ThyssenKrupp, the company had been the target of a ‘very professional hacker attack since February.’ The breach was executed through hidden backdoors in the IT systems which were used to gain access to the steel giant’s valuable intellectual property.
ThyssenKrupp said that the attack was uncovered in April by its own in-house computer emergency response team (CERT), which has since cleaned and re-secured the infected systems. State and federal cyber security and data protection agencies were informed of the hack. A criminal complaint was also lodged with police in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The attack succeeded in thieving data records from multiple business units before it was discovered and stopped. The hacked branches included ThyssenKrupp’s plant engineering division which manages the construction of large plants across Europe, India, Argentina and the U.S.
The steel-maker did not identify which documents were pinched, nor did it reveal details about the exact scale of its losses.
Based in Duisburg and Essen, ThyssenKrupp operates 670 businesses globally and is one of the world’s largest producers of steel. The company also manufactures parts and systems for the automotive sector, industrial services, as well as for the military, producing naval submarines and warships.
A further case of industrial espionage has come to light recently with new evidence pointing to a series of hacks against leading U.S. law firms, including Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Cleary Gottlieb. Many of the targeted firms represent Wall Street banks and Fortune 500 companies. Reports link the hacks to state-sponsored actors in China.