In the new age of tech and cyber security, James Bond might just as easily use a thumb drive over a license to kill.
Classified technical details of a Indian Navy nuclear submarine have been stolen by Chinese hackers, thanks to malware infected USBs that were plugged into classified computers, the Indian Express recently reported.
The naval computer systems were stored in and around Visakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, and were infected by a virus that clandestinely collected sensitive data which was sent to Chinese ISP addresses.
Officials told the Indian Express it was “premature at this stage” to estimate the extent of the damage.
The virus was initially planted on Internet connected devices, laying dormant until a USB device was plugged in. The bug then made its way onto the drive, which was then plugged into a computer housing sensitive information of the Indian Navy. The virus searched for keywords and stole related data. That data was then submitted to ISP addresses in China when the USB drive was later connected to an Internet-connected device. USB drives are prohibited in offices of the Indian Navy, but apparently the policy was breached. The infected drives were used to transfer data from stand alone computers to other computers.
Though there is no proof the Chinese ISP addresses were the final recipients of the information, China has been accused by companies, including Google, of cyber espionage. US politicians have questioned a number of China’s telecom companies over concerns their business in the US could lead to espionage. Australia has banned a Chinese telecom provider from bidding on national projects over similar concerns.