Ransom gang claims to have stolen 3,000 copies of SpaceX rocket designs
17 March - Ransomware gang LockBit has claimed to have stolen 3,000 design drawings from Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket team and threatened to sell them to its rivals.
Earlier this week, LockBit informed Musk of the incident and warned that the certified designs would be made public or auctioned off at a major event on 20 March. The group posted on the dark web: "We are very lucky that the SpaceX contractor is very talkative. I think the materials will find a buyer soon".
The post also said: "Musk, we'll help you sell the designs to other manufacturers so you can build the spacecraft faster and then launch. Now I'll give you the exact numbers: about 3,000 drawings certified by SpaceX engineers. We will start the auction within a week. All available data will be made public!
The dark page also showed real-time countdown numbers, with just four days left until SpaceX pays this undisclosed ransom to the ransomware group. Below the post were three "confidential" documents allegedly leaked from Maximum Industries, a company believed to be a contractor for SpaceX.
Neither SpaceX nor Maximum Industries have yet commented on the stolen documents, which include vacuum engine designs, a non-disclosure agreement signed between SpaceX and Maximum Industries, and kit designs for the Starship.
LockBit first appeared in early 2020 and has since extorted at least $100 million in ransom from victims worldwide, according to the US Department of Justice. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating the group since March 2020 and believes there may be as many as 1,000 victims worldwide.
LockBit's ransom attacks are not limited to the aerospace sector, with cheese maker Bonta Viva and property developer Radium Life Technology also facing ultimatums to pay up. The Royal Mail reportedly rejected LockBit's ransom demand of up to nearly $80 million in January.
LockBit's threat to release the spacecraft's design follows rumours that it could explode during its first orbital launch in the coming weeks. Musk has said SpaceX will build more Starship rockets if the launch fails, and he believes there is an 80 per cent chance one will be in orbit by the end of the year.
NASA hopes the Starship will be able to take astronauts to the surface of the moon within a few years, and Musk wants to use the giant Starship to send large numbers of people to Mars in the future. I'm not guaranteeing it will make it to orbit, but I am guaranteeing it will be exciting," he said. At least we won't be bored until we get to Mars in a spaceship!
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