Chinese Embassy: US Should Not Be ‘Jumping To Conclusions’

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( — June 5, 2015) — Washington, DC. – The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), responsible for gathering personnel information on federal employees and granting security clearances, reported a major security breach.

Though the cyber-attack itself occurred in April, OPM reported Thursday that the breach potentially could affect four million federal workers, Russia Today reported.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined unnamed government sources which claim the OPM was attacked by Chinese hackers, according to the Associated Press. It is not clear if hackers are sponsored by Chinese government but unnamed US government source said attacks came from China.

In response, Chinese embassy in Washington called the accusations against Chinese hackers “hypothetical” and irresponsible.

“Jumping to conclusions and making a hypothetical accusation is not responsible and is counterproductive,” the embassy’s spokesman, Zhu Haiquan, told Reuters, adding that it is difficult to track hacker activity across borders. China itself is coping with Internet security breaches and is applying great efforts to protect against it, Zhu said.

Beijing earlier admitted the existence of Information warfare units, divided in three sub-groups:

  • Specialized military network warfare forces: “employed for carrying out network attack and defense”
  • Specialists in civilian organizations: ” have been authorized by the military to carry out network warfare operations.”
  • External entities: “that can be organized and mobilized for network warfare operations”  

Though some US officials accused Beijing, it is not known who is behind cyber-attack to OPM, however, officials told Reuters that a foreign government or entity is to blame. The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal cited unnamed government officials who pointed directly at Chinese government.

According to the Washington Post, the attackers may have accessed information such as peoples’ job assignments, work evaluations, various assessments and background checks.

“Certainly, OPM is a high value target,” said OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour to the newspaper, explaining OPM have a lot of information about people.

OPM reported that protecting Federal employee data from cyber-attacks is “of the highest priority,” meanwhile, the FBI is investigating the breach.

“We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace,” the FBI statement read.

Since the attack, OPM said it has enforce the security by reviewing all connections to the network, and implementing new measures, such as restricting access and powers of remote administrators, and utilizing anti-malware software for further protection.