LONDON: Unknown hackers have broken into the security networks of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and several other US military contractors, a source with direct knowledge of the attacks told this news agency.

They breached security systems designed to keep out intruders by creating duplicates to “SecurID” electronic keys from EMC Corp’s (EMC.N) RSA security division, said the person who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

It was not immediately clear what kind of data, if any, was stolen by the hackers. But the networks of Lockheed and other military contractors contain sensitive data on future weapons systems as well as military technology currently used in battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Weapons makers are the latest companies to be breached through sophisticated attacks that have pierced the defenses of huge corporations including Sony (SNE.N), Google Inc (GOOG.O) and EMC Corp (EMC.N). Security experts say that it is virtually impossible for any company or government agency to build a security network that hackers will be unable to penetrate.

The Pentagon, which has about 85,000 military personnel and civilians working on cyber security issues worldwide, said it also uses a limited number of the RSA electronic security keys, but declined to say how many for security reasons.

The hackers learned how to copy the security keys with data stolen from RSA during a sophisticated attack that EMC disclosed in March, according to the source.

EMC declined to comment on the matter, as did executives at major defense contractors.

Lockheed, which employs 126,000 people worldwide and had $45.8 billion in revenue last year, said it does not discuss specific threats or responses as a matter of principle, but regularly took actions to counter threats and ensure security. (Reuters)

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