Volkswagen Confirms Chinese Hackers Stole Technological Data Between 2010 and 2015

Volkswagen confirms Chinese state-sponsored hackers stole 19,000 files on engine, transmission, and alternative drive technologies over 5 years, highlighting the growing threat of cyber attacks on German companies.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Volkswagen Confirms Chinese Hackers Stole Technological Data Between 2010 and 2015

Volkswagen Confirms Chinese Hackers Stole Technological Data Between 2010 and 2015

Volkswagen has confirmed that between 2010 and 2015, Chinese state-sponsored hackers stole up to 19,000 files containing technological knowledge on engine development, transmissions, and alternative drive technologies. The trail of the cyber attack led to Beijing, near China's military intelligence service.

The car manufacturer revealed that the incident took place around ten years ago and was recently reported by German media outlets. The stolen data targeted areas such as gasoline engine development, transmission development, and dual clutch transmission, as well as concepts for alternative drive technologies like electromobility and fuel cells.

Cybersecurity experts found clear evidence of the attack originating from China, with IP addresses leading to Beijing near China's military intelligence service. Volkswagen noticed the attack in 2014 and launched a counterattack in 2015, shutting down large parts of its network and deleting data on more than 90 servers.

The hackers were able to penetrate deep into Volkswagen's IT systems, including those of Audi and Bentley. They gained administrator privileges in 2013, allowing them to access sensitive technological information. Volkswagen discovered the hack in 2014 due to a typo made by the hackers, which caused the IT systems to demand more capacity.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the growing threat of cyber attacks, with German companies regularly falling victim to such attacks, often attributed to professional cyber criminals from Russia and China. It emphasizes the importance of robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive technological data and intellectual property from state-sponsored hackers.

Volkswagen emphasized the importance of digital security in protecting their systems, processes, and products. The company stated that they are continuously working to ensure the security and functionality of their IT landscape, products, and digital ecosystems, including through new technological options and constant exchange with partners, associations, and authorities. The Chinese embassy in Berlin rejected the allegations, calling them "outrageous".

Key Takeaways

  • Volkswagen confirms Chinese state hackers stole 19,000 files on engine, transmission tech.
  • Cyber attack traced to Beijing near China's military intelligence service, occurred 2010-2015.
  • Hackers gained admin privileges in 2013, accessed sensitive tech info across VW, Audi, Bentley.
  • VW discovered hack in 2014 due to hacker's typo, launched counterattack in 2015 to delete data.
  • Incident highlights growing threat of state-sponsored cyber attacks on German companies.