A Chinese national pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to hack the computers of the Boeing Co. in order to steal military trade secrets involving the C-17 military cargo transport and send the information to China.
Su Bin — who also used the names Stephen Su, Stephen Subin and Steven Subin — entered his plea to a federal charge of conspiracy to unlawfully access computers in the United States.
A criminal complaint filed in 2014 and subsequent indictments charged Su — who ran a China-based aviation and aerospace company from Canada — for his role in the criminal conspiracy to steal military technical data relating to the C-17 strategic transport aircraft and certain fighter jets produced for the U.S. military.
Su was initially arrested at his home in British Columbia, Canada, in July 2014. He ultimately waived extradition and consented to be extradited to the United States last month.
In his plea agreement, Su admitted to conspiring with two others in China from October 2008 to March 2014 to gain unauthorized access to protected computer networks in the United States, including computers belonging to Boeing in Orange County,to obtain sensitive military information and to export that information illegally from the U.S. to China.
“Cybercrime represents one of the most serious threats to our national security,” said Eileen Decker, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles. “Today’s guilty plea and conviction demonstrate that these criminals can be held accountable no matter where they are located in the world and that we are deeply committed to protecting our sensitive data in order to keep our nation safe.”
Among Su’s targets were Boeing’s C-17 — which was built in El Segundo — and the F-22 “Raptor” and F-35 “Lightning” fighter jets, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.
According to court documents, Su traveled to the United States at least 10 times between 2008 and 2014 and worked with the two unidentified co- conspirators to steal the data.
Prosecutors said the trio attempted to sell the stolen military data to Chinese companies for financial gain. As part of the scheme, Su translated the data into Chinese.
He faces up to five years in federal prison when he is sentenced July 13 by U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder.
“Su Bin admitted to playing an important role in a conspiracy, originating in China, to illegally access sensitive military data, including data relating to military aircraft that are indispensable in keeping our military personnel safe,” said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin. “This plea sends a strong message that stealing from the United States and our companies has a significant cost — we can and will find these criminals and bring them to justice.”
Su’s plea agreement makes clear that the information he and his co- conspirators intentionally stole included data listed on the U.S. Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, prosecutors said.
— Wire reports