Multi-year Volkswagen breach points to Chinese hackers

Attackers have penetrated Volkswagen Group’s systems, stealing over 19,000 documents with intellectual property, German media reports. China is believed to be behind the attack.

Attackers successfully targeted the German automotive giant Volkswagen, for at least five years, ZDF reports. Internal documents seen by journalists show that between 2010 and 2015, malicious actors infiltrated Volkswagen’s systems, exfiltrating intellectual property several times over the period.

Attackers mostly focused on the company’s development of gasoline engines, transmission development, and dual-clutch transmission research. Additionally, attackers focused a lot of effort on Volkswagen’s electric vehicle research.

According to the German report, at least 19,000 documents were stolen from the automaker. The company’s security team successfully recovered files exfiltrated from Volkswagen, which means that the true extent of the attack could be more significant.

Experts to whom journalists discussed the hack mention that attackers’ IP addresses, the software they used, and the time zone they operate in point to the hack originating from China.

Volkswagen Group is one of the world’s largest automakers, with last year’s revenue exceeding $322 billion and employees over 667,000. The group’s brands include Audi, Lamborghini, MAN, Porsche, Skoda, Bentley, and others.

Last September, the company had to halt production over an IT incident. However, a cyberattack was ruled out.