ThyssenKrupp secrets stolen in 'massive' cyber attack this year

State and federal cyber security and data protection authorities were kept informed at each stage, as well as Thyssen's board.

Systems of Business Area Steel Europe were also affected, with the attack discovered by the company's computer emergency response team.

The company said it has been a professional attack, apparently from the Southeast Asian region.

The German steel giant in talks to merge with Tata Steel today said it was hit by a "massive" cyber attack earlier this year.

The company has confirmed that hackers targeted ThyssenKrupp's Industrial Solutions division, specifically the unit that specializes in the construction of large industrial plants.

"At present there is no reliable estimation as to the damage (e.g. loss of intellectual property) caused by the attack", the company said in its statement. It added that "there have been no signs of sabotage and no signs of manipulation of data and applications or other sabotage".

The company said: "The incident is not attributable to security deficiencies at thyssenkrupp". Human error can also be ruled out.

ThyssenKrupp, one of the world's largest steel makers, attributed the breaches to unnamed attackers located in southeast Asia.

The company revised the attacked IT systems and they are now being controlled for new attempted attacks.

The industrial conglomerate, along with Airbus parent EADS, were the targets of major attacks by Chinese hackers in 2012, according to a Der Spiegel report.

The company didn't detail which of its business units and subsidiaries have been attacked.

ThyssenKrupp AG is based in Duisburg and Essen, Germany. It owns 670 companies globally and employs about 155,000 people in about 80 countries.

Germany has been subject to repeated cyber attacks in recent years.

Germany is now under high alert for cyberattacks; last week almost one million citizens lost their access to the Internet in an attack on Deutsche Telekom, which politicians have blamed on a Russian campaign to destabilise upcoming elections.

  • Jon Douglas