China still top hack­ing sus­pect

Los Angeles Times - - MONDAY BUSINESS - By Richard A. Ser­rano richard.ser­rano@la­ Twit­ter: @Rick­Ser­ra­noLAT

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.”

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