Austal USA Acknowledges Cyberattack Amidst Data Leak Claims by Ransomware Group

Austal USA, the American subsidiary of the Australian shipbuilding company and defense contractor, has confirmed a cyberattack following claims by the Hunters International ransomware group that they breached the company’s systems. Austal USA is known for its contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the construction of the Independence class littoral combat ships for the U.S. Navy and patrol cutters for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ransomware group alleged that they had obtained sensitive information from Austal USA and released some data as evidence of their intrusion. In response, a spokesperson for Austal USA acknowledged the cyberattack and stated that swift actions were taken to mitigate the incident, ensuring no operational impact. The company has informed regulatory authorities such as the FBI and NCIS, who are involved in investigating the breach’s cause and scope.

Austal USA has assured that no personal or classified information was compromised during the attack. The company is continuing its assessment to fully understand the incident and prevent future occurrences. However, Hunters International has threatened to release more stolen data, including compliance documents, recruiting information, finance details, certifications, and engineering data.

The nature of the accessed data, particularly whether it includes engineering schematics or proprietary U.S. Navy technology, has not been disclosed by Austal USA. Hunters International, which is suspected to be a rebranded version of the Hive ransomware gang, has refuted this claim, stating they are a new entity that acquired the encryptor source code from Hive. The group’s focus is on data theft and extortion rather than encryption.

Currently, Hunters International’s data leak site lists numerous victims across different sectors and regions, indicating the widespread nature of their operations. The incident at Austal USA highlights the persistent threat of cyberattacks and the importance of robust cybersecurity measures for defense contractors and other sensitive industries.

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