The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said last week it is investigating the online sale of classified data about numerous weapon systems, including missile systems being sent to Ukraine.
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A NATO spokesperson told the BBC on Friday, “We are assessing claims relating to data allegedly stolen from MBDA.” The MBDA missile systems company is a European multinational joint venture by weapons makers Matra, BAe Dynamics and Alenia (together initialized as MBDA). The company has produced a family of missiles called the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM).
The BBC reported about 80GB worth of the stolen data is being sold on both Russian and English language forums for 15 Bitcoins (about $304,072). The online sellers said that included among the stolen data is “classified information about employees of companies that took part in the development of closed military projects” and “design documentation, drawings, presentations, video and photo materials, contract agreements and correspondence with other companies.”
The sellers were also offering a free 50 MB sample of the data, which includes documents marked “NATO CONFIDENTIAL”, “NATO RESTRICTED” and “Unclassified Controlled Information.” In addition to a free sample, the sellers also reportedly shared two documents with the BBC marked “NATO SECRET.”
NATO SECRET is the second highest NATO classification level with “COSMIC TOP SECRET” serving as the highest classification designation in NATO usage.
The BBC said it has not been able to independently verify the data it received from the online sellers, however, one file did describe a “communications intelligence” mission by a U.S. squadron that had taken place at the end of 2020 in Estonia. The data included the call logs, full name, phone number and GPS coordinates of a key person allegedly involved in the mission.
One of the other files offered to the BBC appeared to detail the internals of the MBDA’s Land Ceptor CAMM missile system. The Land Ceptor is part of an air defense system called Sky Saber.
One Land Ceptor system has already been sent to Poland to be transferred to Ukraine for use in their ongoing fight against invading Russian forces. The system would be useful in defending against Russian aircraft and missile attacks. The stolen schematic purports to show the precise location of the missile systems internal electronic storage unit.
The data sellers could not specify whether the weapons data came from more than one hacked source.
It’s not entirely clear when or how this data may have been taken from NATO or MBDA.
“We have no indication that any NATO network has been compromised,” the NATO official told the BBC.
MBDA did not dispute the possibility that its information had been breached but told the BBC, “The company’s internal verification processes indicate that the data made available online are neither classified data nor sensitive.”
MBDA’s characterized the exposed data as non-classified despite some of the documents being labelled as “proprietary information not to be disclosed or reproduced.”
The Land Ceptor is among several advanced weapons systems NATO-allied nations have supplied to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. Data leaks like the ones the BBC detailed could potentially show weaknesses in systems used both by Ukrainian forces and NATO allies.