Rocket engine company settles with US government after alleged lie about cybersecurity

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Rocket engine manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne has reached a $9 million settlement with the US government. The company allegedly lied about the state of its cybersecurity in order to receive billions of dollars in public funds.

The US Department of Justice writes Friday that Aerojet Rocketdyne agrees to pay the settlement. Among other things, the company has made engines for NASA, which have been used for satellites and rockets. Between July 2013 and September 2015, Aerojet Rocketdyne received approximately $2.6 billion in public funds. The support came from NASA and the Department of Defense.

The lawsuit was filed by former employee Brian Markus. The man was hired by Aerojet Rocketdyne as a cybersecurity specialist in 2013. Markus says he was allocated far less budget and staff than was promised, writes Reuters. The company would also have concealed from the board that it did not meet the required safety requirements to be eligible for funds. The former employee already reached a settlement with the company in April. Now that the Justice Department has approved this settlement, Markus will receive $2.61 million.

By paying the settlement, Aerojet Rocketdyne does not admit any fault. The company says it has adequately briefed government agencies on the state of its cybersecurity.

Update, 2:43 PM: Added a paragraph with Aerojet’s response.