Chinese hackers infiltrated the network of NXP, a major Dutch semiconductor manufacturer, for more than two years to steal chip designs, according to a report by the Dutch newspaper NRC (via Tom’s hardware).
According to the report, Chimera, a hacking group with ties to China and a history of attacking semiconductor companies, had access to NXP’s networks from late 2017 to early 2020.
Despite Chimera’s long exposure to sensitive intellectual property information, NXP isn’t too concerned about attackers replicating its chips.
Chinese hacking group steals IP information from semiconductors
According to NRC, NXP only became aware of the hack because the same hacking group also targeted KLM Airlines subsidiary Transavia in a similar way. Once again, Chimera is said to have also targeted airlines in the past.
It is believed that the hackers breached NXP’s network by using previously leaked credentials and using brute force attacks.
The semiconductor has not publicly announced the attack, but has confirmed that it occurred. This is because it isn’t really bothered by it and doesn’t think it’s something the audience needs to know. Because the data is so complex, NXP doesn’t think hackers can replicate its designs anyway.
Following the attack, the Dutch chipmaker has now taken measures to tighten security to prevent future and more serious attacks.
Although it appears that there have been no serious direct consequences on this occasion, indirect consequences may continue to occur.
For example, NXP provides secure elements for the iPhone, including the components that underlie Apple Pay. Apple is a company that plays its cards very close to its chest, so such a leak could impact the deal between the two companies in the future.
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