A top US intelligence official has directly accused China of being behind the hack at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which resulted in the records of millions of US government workers being stolen – including records of sexual and other indiscretions that staff are obliged to report to their bosses.
According to The Wall Street Journal, director of national intelligence James Clapper suggested that China was the “leading suspect” in what was a substantial act of cyber theft.
While many Washington insiders have implied that China was responsible for the cyber attack, none of them have publically accused the People’s Republic of being responsible for cyber attacks which resulted in the theft data about millions of US government employees.
The hackers even made off with the complete file of infidelities, unusual sexual practices and fetishes, drug abuse, debt troubles, alcoholism, gambling problems and more of millions of US government staff, a senior official recently admitted.
Given the sophisticated nature of the hack against OPM, Clapper reportedly told a Washington intelligence conference: “You have to kind-of salute the Chinese for what they did.”
Initially it was believed that hackers stole up to four million current government employee records.
Now, however, officials have warned that the breach may have had an impact on every federal agency and have described the breach as among the largest known thefts of government data in history. It’s possible that up to 18 million Americans have been affected by the breach.
Clapper went onto argue that policy makers have to focus “a lot more attention to defence,” and implied that Washington needs to do more to deter hackers, cyber criminals and spies from attempting to steal data.
“The problem for us, frankly, is that until such time as we can create both the substance and the psychology of deterrence, this is going to go on,” he said. “And that’s been frankly a struggle for us, because of concerns about unintended consequences and other related policy issues,” Clapper added.
China has dismissed US suggestions that is it responsible for the OPM hack as “irresponsible and unscientific”.
Clapper’s accusation came hours after government officials from the US and China agreed to establish a code of conduct to ‘outline appropriate behaviour’ in cyber space.
“The United States and China should be working together to develop and implement a shared understanding of appropriate state behaviour in cyberspace. And I’m pleased to say China agreed that we must work together to complete a code of conduct regarding cyber activities,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.