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China Shocked, Shocked by Fed Data Breach

A huge amount of personal data on federal employees has been stolen, and all fingers point to…China. Here’s the AP with some context:

China-based hackers are suspected of breaking into the computer networks of the U.S. government personnel office and stealing identifying information of at least 4 million federal workers, American officials said Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department had been compromised.

“The FBI is conducting an investigation to identify how and why this occurred,” the statement said. […]

[Main Sen. Susan] Collins, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said the breach was “yet another indication of a foreign power probing successfully and focusing on what appears to be data that would identify people with security clearances.”

A U.S. official who declined to be identified said the data breach could potentially affect every federal agency. One key question is whether intelligence agency employee information was stolen. Former government employees are affected as well.

China’s response has been to say “who, me?” The Washington Post reports:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing wanted to cooperate with other nations to build a peaceful and secure cyberspace.

“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,” he told a regular news briefing. […]

“We know that cyber hacking attacks are anonymous and transnational, and it is hard to track the source,” Hong said. “It’s irresponsible and unscientific to make groundless accusations without deep investigation and research.”

The increasing scale and frequency of hacking, both by states and by individuals, is a problem to which there is simply no solution right now, even as more of our key government functions, more aspects of our military technology, and more of our daily lives move online. America needs to have a short- and long-term plan for dealing with this as an all too real matter of national security. But it’s not at all clear what such plans would look like. As Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said, “our response to these attacks can no longer simply be notifying people after their personal information has been stolen. We must start to prevent these breaches in the first place.”

We said “you” were the #1 Loser of 2014 due to the increasing danger of cybercrime. Looks like you’re on track to keep the title.

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