Chinese Cyber attack hits 4 million current and former US federal workers

On Thursday US officials said, attackers broke into American government PCs, possibly hacking the private information of almost 4 million former and current government employees. Researchers seem to be positive that the hackers were based in China.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a statement on Thursday that it is inspecting the attack. The attackers were located in China, said by a Maine Republican, Sen. Susan Collins.

American law enforcement source said to Reuters that an “overseas government or entity” was supposed to be behind the data breach. Officials were investigating into a possible Chinese link, a person close to the matter stated.

While on the other hand, Chinese Embassy representative in Washington DC said all allegations were counterproductive and irresponsible. He stated it was difficult to track attacker activity across the borders.

Zhu Haiquan said, “Cyber-attack is a global threat which could [sic] only be addressed by international cooperation based on mutual trust and mutual respect. We hope all countries in the world can work constructively together to address cyber security issues, push forward the formulation of international rules and norms in … cyberspace, in order to build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace.”

The hack of Office of Personal Management (OPM) is just the latest among a chain of massive attacks in the American government, with hacks from the State Department to White House and others all reporting cyber infringements in the last year.

The administration of Obama declared earlier this year, it would impose authorizations on overseas entities and individuals that engage in data breaches, which intimidate USA’s economic health or national security.

OPM has been attacked many times in the past. In 2014, the OPM found another data breach in March while its leading contractor that controlled the background inquiries for security sanctions, USIS, mentioned an attack in Aug 2015.

Then USIS was fired by OPM and OPM hired 2 other contractors to control the background inquiries. Keypoint was one of them, stated that it suffered a data breach in Dec 2014.

Katherine Archuleta, OPM Director said, “Protecting our Federal employee data from malicious cyber incidents is of the highest priority at OPM. We take very seriously our responsibility to secure the information stored in our systems, and in coordination with our agency partners, our experienced team is constantly identifying opportunities to further protect the data with which we are entrusted.”

Chinese attackers were accused for compromising OPM’s networks in 2014, and attackers appeared to have attacked private data on thousands of workers who had applied for security authorizations, reported by NYT (New York Times) July 2014, citing anonymous American officials.

In a statement the bureau said, “The FBI is working with our interagency partners to investigate this matter. We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”

Richard Burr, the chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee said that the federal government must renovate its cybersecurity lines. “Our response to these attacks can no longer simply be notifying people after their personal information has been stolen,” he said. “We must start to prevent these breaches in the first place.”

Ali Raza Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a Master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology for SecurityGladiators. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.
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