Cyber attacks on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan's biggest defence contractor, do not appear to have compromised sensitive or classified information, Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa said on Tuesday. Ichikawa did not say what information was at risk. “I have heard about the cyber attacks on the company but I have not heard that important data leaked outside (the company),” he told reporters. Mitsubishi Heavy, which has built the U.S.-designed F-15 fighter jet and missile systems including Patriot batteries under licence, said on Monday that computer systems had been accessed in August and some network information, such as IP addresses, may have been leaked.
An investigation by a computer security company revealed connections were made to 14 overseas sites, including at least 20 servers in China, Hong Kong, the United States and India, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. A Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman declined to comment further on the first known cyber attack on Japan's defence industry, saying it aims to conclude an investigation by the end of September. Japan's Jiji news agency quoted Mitsubishi Heavy President Hideaki Ohmiya as saying on Tuesday that he expected limited damage from the cyber attack. But the Defence Ministry is concerned it was not told about the attacks. “The Defence Ministry has received no reports (from Mitsubishi Heavy) on the issue, and that is highly regrettable,” a ministry spokesman said.
The ministry has asked Mitsubishi Heavy to probe the matter and keep it informed, the spokesman said. Shares of the machinery maker, which is also helping the United States to develop its ballistic missile shield, fell on Tuesday. Mitsubishi Heavy shares were down 3.3 percent at 318 yen by early afternoon, compared with a 1.5 percent fall in the benchmark Nikkei average. “The company is still assessing the damage so the impact is still unknown at this point, but because defence is so important to the company's business this is bad news,” said Mitsushige Akino, Chief Fund Manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. Mitsubishi Heavy won 215 deals worth 260 billion yen ($3.4 billion) from Japan's Ministry of Defence in the year to last March, or nearly a quarter of the ministry's spending that year. Besides surface-to-air Patriot missiles the weapons included and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles.
A Japanese defence white paper released last month urged better protection against cyber attacks after a spate of high-profile online assaults this year that included Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), and other U.S. defence contractors. That call for vigilance came after the United States revealed in July that 24,000 files had been stolen by a foreign intelligence entity from a U.S. defence contractor in March. ($1 = 76.405 Japanese Yen).