Hack­ers may have tar­geted en­voys’ Chi­nese con­tacts: re­port

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Chi­nese hack­ers ac­cused of at­tack­ing U.S. fed­eral data­bases may have snared the names of Chi­nese with links to Amer­i­can of­fi­cials, putting them in dan­ger, The New York Times said Wed­nes­day.

Last week, the U.S. gov­ern­ment ad­mit­ted hack­ers ac­cessed the per­sonal data of at least 4 mil­lion cur­rent and for­mer fed­eral em­ploy­ees, in a vast cy­ber­at­tack sus­pected to have orig­i­nated in China.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say that the hack- ers who breached the data­bases of the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment could have ob­tained the names of Chi­nese rel­a­tives, friends and as­so­ciates of Amer­i­can diplo­mats and other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, the Times said.

Bei­jing — which la­beled claims of Chi­nese in­volve­ment in the huge hack “ir­re­spon­si­ble” — could use that in­for­ma­tion for black­mail or re­tal­i­a­tion, the news­pa­per said.

Fed­eral em­ploy­ees in­volved with na­tional se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion are re­quired to list some or all of their for­eign con­tacts to re­ceive high-level clear­ance, the re­port said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Times, in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials have in re­cent days de­scribed in clas­si­fied brief­ings to mem­bers of Congress “what ap­pears to be a sys­tem­atic Chi­nese ef­fort to build data­bases that ex­plain the in­ner work­ings of the U.S. gov­ern­ment,” the news­pa­per said.

“It gives the Chi­nese the abil­ity to ex­ploit who is listed as a for­eign con­tact,” James Lewis, a cy­ber­ex­pert at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, told the Times.

“And if you are a Chi­nese per­son who didn’t re­port your con­tacts or re­la­tion­ships with an Amer­i­can, you may have a prob­lem.”

The breach at the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment was just the lat­est in a se­ries of ma­jor in­cur­sions that have shown the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the U.S. fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

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