ThyssenKrupp hit by hackers eyeing industrial secrets
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ThyssenKrupp hit by hackers eyeing industrial secrets

The German conglomerate that makes Israel’s top secret submarines and naval corvettes says its shipbuilding arm was unaffected

This file photo taken on December 11, 2012 shows a general view of the headquarters of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp AG in Essen, Germany. (AFP/Patrik Stollarz)
This file photo taken on December 11, 2012 shows a general view of the headquarters of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp AG in Essen, Germany. (AFP/Patrik Stollarz)

German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp said Thursday it fell victim to a hacking attack in which the perpetrators sought to steal company secrets.

Hackers believed to be from Southeast Asia were trying to obtain “technological know-how and research results” from the steel conglomerate, said a company spokesman, confirming a report in the German Wirschaftswoche weekly.

“The attack is over and had been repelled,” he added.

The “massive cyber attack” had targeted divisions dealing with orders planning of industrial plants and steel works in Europe.

Highly protected parts of the company such as ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems or the IT control systems of the group’s blast furnaces and power plants were not affected.

The INS Rahav, a Dolphin class made by German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, sets off from the German port of Kiel toward Haifa, December 17, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The INS Rahav, a Dolphin class made by German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, sets off from the German port of Kiel toward Haifa, December 17, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

ThyssenKrupp Marine builds warships including submarines for the German and Israeli navies.

The cyber attack was uncovered by the company’s IT security office, which monitored and analysed the hacking while it was ongoing, said the group.

The German industrial giant has been in the news in Israel following the revelation last month that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer had a part in pushing Thyssenkrupp’s interests in Israel, in what may constitute a conflict of interest.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has ordered the police to look into allegations that David Shimron used his close relationship with the premier to push Israel to purchase several submarines from ThyssenKrupp, award the company a contract for naval vessels to defend Israel’s gas fields, and allow it to run a shipyard in Israel.

David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal lawyer, at a Likud press conference in Tel Aviv, February 1, 2015. (Flash90)
David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, at a Likud press conference in Tel Aviv, February 1, 2015. (Flash90)

Channel 2 television said the police inquiry — which is not yet a full-blown investigation — would focus not on the purchase of three Dolphin submarines from the Germany company, which has dominated the headlines, but rather on a separate 2014 Defense Ministry tender for naval ships, also involving ThyssenKrupp, to protect the Mediterranean natural gas fields.

According to foreign reports, the Dolphin-class submarines afford Israel a nuclear second-strike capability crucial to the small country’s deterrence against potential nuclear aggressors.

ThyssenKrupp also made headlines in Israel after it was revealed that the Iran Foreign Investment Company held a 4.5 percent stake in the Germany conglomerate.

According to reports in Hebrew-language media, the IFIC has earned nearly $100 million from its shares over the past decade with a 4.5 percent stake.

The Defense Ministry had initially told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that it had no knowledge of the Iranian holding and a source close to former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon told the tabloid in an article published last Thursday that it had only learned of the Iranian connection from the paper’s reporting.

However, on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry acknowledged it had known about the Iran Foreign Investment Company’s share in German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp since 2004.

Zionist Union member Tzipi Livni addresses a question to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Question Time, July 18, 2016. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)
Zionist Union member Tzipi Livni addresses a question to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Question Time, July 18, 2016. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

On Thursday, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni announced that the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will hold a special debate on the issue of what the Defense Ministry knew about Iranian involvement in the company when the deals were agreed.

At least some of the deals for Israel to purchase submarines from Thyssenkrupp were made when Livni herself served as foreign minister under Ehud Olmert from 2006 to 2009.

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