Chinese hackers breach US government, compromise data of millions

Chinese hackers have been behind several high-profile cyber attacks in recent history, and the most recent attack is no different.

Image via Wikimedia

Reports arose Thursday that the Office of Personnel Management -- the U.S. agency responsible for overseeing and managing employees of the federal government from all branches -- was the target of a massive, large-scale attack which may have compromised the data of up to 4 million federal employees, according to government estimates provided to the Associated Press.

The attack, which came just weeks after a breach of Internal Revenue Service systems which compromised the data of 100,000 taxpayers, has yet to be assessed in its scale. The FBI has launched an investigation, and officials say the data breached included personally identifiable information of those 4 million employees.

In response to the breach, government agencies have stepped up monitoring and tracking to ensure an attack of this scale doesn't happen in the future. But this incident is far from the first time Chinese hackers have breached data belonging to the U.S. government or U.S.-based companies, and will likely be far from the last.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R - NC) called for the government to overhaul its cyber security defenses, saying the U.S. must be proactive rather than reactive. "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."

And China is far from the only nation to ramp up its cyber espionage in recent years. Russia was recently pinned as the culprit of an attack targeting Germany's parliament, and the high-profile case of North Korean hackers targeting Sony's servers recently led to sanctions over the issue.

Source: AP

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