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Hackers of Japanese military contractor fluent in Chinese

83 infected machines in 11 locations

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Software used to breach the security of a Japanese maker of sensitive weapons systems contained simplified Chinese characters, making it difficult for those who don't speak the language to carry out the hack, Japan's biggest daily newspaper reported.

A computer screen used by attackers to remotely control infected computers inside Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries included simplified Chinese characters for words such as “automatic,” “catch,” and “image,” The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources. Investigators with Japan's Metropolitan Police Department now consider the hack an international espionage case.

In all, the attack infected 83 computers and servers at 11 locations, including MHI's Tokyo headquarters, factories and research and development centers, a separate article in the same paper said. IHI Corp., another maker of heavy electronics, suffered similar attacks, the paper reported without elaborating.

So far there's no confirmation the attackers accessed confidential blueprints of sensitive weapons systems, but no one inside the company has ruled out that possibility. MHI manufactures a variety of US-designed weapons for Japan's Self-Defense Forces, including F-15 fighter jets. The breach happened in August but didn't come to light until earlier this week.

According to The New York Times, United States officials have issued a stern warning over the attacks over Japan's ability to handle delicate information. ®

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