According to U. S. officials, massive hacking of data from the U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Interior Department revealed in June 2015 is at least the 3rd of multiple Chinese hack attacks in the past 2 years to gather substantial data on Americans:
– in 2014, China’s Ministry of State Security, that nation’s spy agency responsible for foreign espionage and domestic counterintelligence, probably along with its military, hacked into the computers of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contractor, obtaining personal information on 25,000+ DHS workers and thousands of other federal employees;
– in November 2014, computers for the Office of Personnel Management were hacked but no personal information was obtained;
– in early 2015 computers for Premera Blue Cross and Empire Blue Cross were hacked, retrieving personal data excluding health information;
– the latest attack on OPM, supposedly commencing in December 2014 and discovered in early June 2015, obtained the personal information on approximately 4 million federal employees;
– the absence of all this data from the Black Market is a strong indication that it was stolen for espionage/counterintelligence rather than monetary gain.
The massive hacks on the OPM are particularly distressing because the OPM is the essentially the human resources department for the federal government and hacking into its employee information reveals detailed background checks, requests for renewals of security clearances, and detailed information on where each person has lived and traveled.
The value of such information for espionage and counterintelligence is clear: the Chinese government can use this information to: recruit new spies; counteract our own spies; and ferret out counterspies in China’s midst.
The massive attacks and data retrieval appear to be carried out by the same Chinese group, appeared and accelerated within the past 1 – 1 ½ years.
In response to U. S. officials’ allegations, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated, “We wish the United States would not be full of suspicions, catching wind and shadows, but rather have a larger measure of trust and cooperation.”
In reality, China’s computer hack-fest appears to be at least partial retaliation for the massive international data collection and analysis conducted by our own National Security Agency (NSA).
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