Better Informed Than Congress: China’s Cyber Spies Reading Emails of Senior Obama Administration Officials Since 2010

President Barack Obama reflects during a meeting with his full Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The email grab — first codenamed ‘Dancing Panda’ by U.S. officials, and then ‘Legion Amethyst’ — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on. 

Robert Windrem reports: China’s cyber spies have accessed the private emails of “many” top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.

chinese hackers

The email grab — first codenamed “Dancing Panda” by U.S. officials, and then “Legion Amethyst” — was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.

In 2011, Google disclosed that the private gmail accounts of some U.S. officials had been compromised, but the briefing shows that private email accounts from other providers were compromised as well.

An NSA slide shows the organization of the Chinese government’s hacking units, with separate operations run by the Chinese military and by state security. NBC News

An NSA slide shows the organization of the Chinese government’s hacking units, with separate operations run by the Chinese military and by state security. NBC News

The government email accounts assigned to the officials, however, were not hacked because they are more secure, says the senior U.S. intelligence official.

The senior official says the private emails of “all top national security and trade officials” were targeted.

[Read the full text here, at NBC News]

The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then “exploiting the(ir) social networks” by sending malware to their friends and colleagues.

White-House-Jarret-Axelrod-Oval-Office

The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official. Read the rest of this entry »


Tuna Robot! Navy Tests UUV

Tuna-Robot-Navy

The Future of Underwater Surveillance?

For Defense TechKris Osborn reports: The Navy is testing a stealthy, 4 foot-long fish-shaped autonomous underwater vehicle designed to blend in with undersea life and perform combat sensor functions, service officials explained.

Navy-tuna-robot

The so-called “bio-memetic” undersea vehicle is currently being developed as part of the Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Innovation Cell,  or CRIC – a special unit set up by CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert in 2012 to explore the feasibility of rapidly turning around commercially available technologies for Naval military use.

“You could have a sub with a fish-like UUV tethered onto a cable, giving real time feedback as opposed to current ones that come back for a download…”

— Capt. Jim Loper, Navy Warfare Development Command

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“It mimics a fish. It looks like a fish. We call it robo-tuna, affectionately, but it is a UUV (unmanned undersea vehicle).  It does not have a propeller or a jet. It actually swims by flipping its tail around,” said Capt. Jim Loper, concepts and innovation department head, Navy Warfare Development Command, Norfolk. Read the rest of this entry »