China still top hacking suspect
WASHINGTON — The cyberattack on the federal Office of Personnel Management was orchestrated by someone working directly for a foreign government or in concert with a foreign state, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday.
“There are only two possibilities here with an attack this sophisticated,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, the top Democrat on the panel. “Either a state actor or a group of private hackers who often work in concert with the state.”
But Schiff, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” cautioned that the U.S. is not quite ready to say affirmatively who was behind one of the worst breaches of federal workers’ personal information, which comes as officials are growing increasingly worried about cybersecurity in this country.
The data breached included Social Security information and other personal data belonging to about 4 million federal employees in the United States. The information also included security clearances.
Sources have said the information most likely was acquired to help the perpetrators identify which federal employees might be vulnerable and willing to spy against the United States.
“It’s very valuable information,” Schiff said of the stolen material.
On CNN on Saturday, Schiff strongly suggested that China, as most law enforcement sources have said, or Russia was behind the breach.
“We certainly have made great progress with the investigation,” he said. “I can tell you, as a general matter, that China is a very bad actor in the cyber field, and so is Russia. They not only have state actors, but they have private groups that work in concert with the state.”
The U.S. government has yet to affirmatively identify who was behind the attack that was first detected in April and announced last week. It marked the third major intrusion into a major U.S. government computer system in the last year.
On the Republican side, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, agreed with Schiff that China is a top suspect in the intrusion.
“All threat indicators point to the fact that it was China, perhaps nation-state sponsored, because of the way it was done,” he said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”