When the Administration disclosed the OPM hack in early June, they said Chinese hackers had stolen the personal information of up to four million current and former federal employees. The suspicion was that this was another case of hackers (presumably sanctioned by China’s government) stealing data to use in identity theft and financial fraud. Which is bad enough.
Yet in recent days Obama officials have quietly acknowledged to Congress that the hack was far bigger, and far more devastating. It appears OPM was subject to two breaches of its system in mid-to-late 2014, and the hackers appear to have made off with millions of security-clearance background check files.
These include reports on Americans who work for, did work for, or attempted to work for the Administration, the military and intelligence agencies. They even include Congressional staffers who left government—since their files are also sent to OPM.
This means the Chinese now possess sensitive information on everyone from current cabinet officials to U.S. spies. Background checks are specifically done to report personal histories that might put federal employees at risk for blackmail. The Chinese now hold a blackmail instruction manual for millions of targets.
These background checks are also a treasure trove of names, containing sensitive information on an applicant’s spouse, children, extended family, friends, neighbors, employers, landlords. Each of those people is also now a target, and in ways they may not contemplate. In many instances the files contain reports on applicants compiled by federal investigators, and thus may contain information that the applicant isn’t aware of.
Of particular concern are federal contractors and subcontractors, who rarely get the same security training as federal employees, and in some scenarios don’t even know for what agency they are working. These employees are particularly ripe targets for highly sophisticated phishing emails that attempt to elicit sensitive corporate or government information. Read the rest of this entry »
China appears to have scored a major win here
Tom Rogan writes: ‘We have a lot of information about people, and that is something that our adversaries want.”
That’s how Donna Seymour, an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) official recently described the OPM hacking to a reporter for the Washington Post. As we found out yesterday, in April, Chinese hackers intruded OPM networks and potentially acquired the personal information of 4 million U.S. government employees.
“China has exceptionally capable, experienced, and wide-ranging cyber-hacking forces. These units are experts at both physical access and remote penetration of network-security systems.”
So how did this happen? Well, according to an OPM press release, the agency has been upgrading its network security over the past year. That said, yesterday’s press release also notes that it was only after the April hacking that OPM focused on “restricting remote access for network administrators…and deploying anti-malware software” against
programs that might “compromise the network.” In short, OPM hasn’t beenmoving fast enough to prevent hacking.
“In short, everything you would never want your enemy to know about you – from a counterintelligence viewpoint, this breach represents a true nightmare scenario.”
Regardless, it makes sense that China was involved in the intrusion. For a start, China has exceptionally capable, experienced, and wide-ranging cyber-hacking forces. These units are experts at both physical access and remote penetration of network-security systems.
Moreover, China has a penchant for attacking the OPM. In July last year, the New York Times reported on China’s hacking of OPM information on applicants for top-secret security clearances.
That the OPM didn’t urgently upgrade its security after that 2014 incident is inexcusable. We’ve paid the price in our damaged national security. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Chinese Hackers Reveal They Have Archive of Hillary’s State Department Emails, Offer them to GOP in Rare DealPosted: March 12, 2015
Chinese hackers offer Clinton Archive in Exchange for Exclusive Access to Future Celebrity Porn Leaks
HONG KONG – Chinese hackers contacted John Boehner‘s office this week, offering their archived record of Hillary Clinton’s email database, in exchange for a guarantee of exclusive access to future leaks of celebrity nude images and videos, sources inside the capitol have confirmed. The Department of Homeland security, however, denies any knowledge of a deal being offered by the Chinese, and authorities in Beijing decline to comment. “This is either a rogue operation, or a prank”, said Eric Holder, when contacted for comment. “There’s no evidence the emails they claim to have are authentic.”
Other officials disagreed, conceding that military and non-military hackers inside Chinese have long held copies of every email written and received by cabinet officers in the U.S. “We know they keep records of our correspondence, probably even more complete ones than we do”, said one official. “There’s really not a lot we can do about it. We might as well benefit from it.” Boehner agreed, and suggested that negotiations with A-list actresses are already underway.
“I’d do my part, if it meant this scandal could be neutralized”, said actress Kirsten Dunst, “but only if other actresses do it, too, and only if the images don’t appear outside China.” A spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence said that under certain conditions she might allow personal photographs to be shared among Chinese hackers, but declined to say what those conditions are. “Jennifer is a patriot,” her spokesperson said. “But she’s also a realist. She doesn’t necessarily trust the Chinese to honor non-disclosure agreements. Another actress, Kate Upton, declined to participate, “If they wanted picture of me, they’d have them by now. Everyone else does”, she said. Read the rest of this entry »