Leonardo hack targeted commercial, military component unit - police officer

MILAN (Reuters) - Computers hacked at Italian defence group Leonardo between 2015 and 2017 belonged to a unit that makes components for both commercial and military aircraft, including C27J and ATR turboprop, a police officer working on the case told Reuters.

The officer, who asked not to be identified by name, said police were now looking into the hard disks and laptops seized from one of the people arrested to check what kind of information was stolen and why.

“The data could have been stolen simply to show off hacking skills or to sell information,” the officer said. “Both hypotheses are on the table.”

On Dec. 5 Italian police arrested two people who had worked at Leonardo over their alleged role in hacking 94 computers, 33 of which were at the group’s plant in Pomigliano d’Arco, near Naples.

One of the two people under arrest is Arturo D’Elia, who at the time of the hacking was part of the Leonardo team handling cybersecurity incidents.

In a statement issued on Dec. 5, prosecutors said that 10 gigabyte of data exfiltrated from computers at the Pomigliano plant contained information relating to “accounting management, human resources... and the design of components for civil and military aircraft”.

“The stolen data could be valuable both in terms of industrial copyright and security,” they added.

He has not been charged, prosecutors said.

D’Elia was seeking neither profit nor benefit, his lawyer Damiano Cardiello told Reuters, denying the consultant had stolen military technology data.

The hacking “was a way to show to the company that its IT system was vulnerable,” the lawyer said, adding he had appealed to the so-called Review Court against D’Elia’s arrest.

Asked for a comment, Leonardo repeated that the company’s classified, strategic information was not held on the computers that were breached.

The investigation started in 2017 when Leonardo reported abnormal network traffic to police.

According to LinkedIn, D’Elia served as IT security consultant at NATO’s Communication and Information Agency in Rome between 2010 and 2015.

Leonardo has a cybersecurity division that counts NATO among its customers.

Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Louise Heavens