Tags: james clapper | china | data | hacks | federal | employees | intelligence

Intel Chief Clapper: China Is 'Leading Suspect' in Fed Data Hacks

By    |   Thursday, 25 Jun 2015 09:13 PM

China is the "leading suspect" in two hacks that compromised personal data for millions of federal employees, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

"Don't take this the wrong way," Clapper added Thursday in remarks before the GeoInt Symposium, an intelligence conference in Washington. "You have to kinda salute the Chinese for what they did. If we had the opportunity to do that, I don't think we'd hesitate for a moment."

A video of the remarks was posted by NBC News.

Story continues below video.


Clapper's bold assertion follows by one day a warning from Adm. Michael Rogers, who leads the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, not to "assume" China was to blame for the breaches at the Office of Personnel Management, Defense One reported.

The back-and-forth "reveals a rising certainty that China is the party responsible — and an uncertainty about what to do about it, the website reports.

OPM, which screens and hires federal workers, revealed June 4 it had discovered a cyberattack that compromised data for 4.2 million current and former federal employees.

Eight days later, a second attack that targeted information for millions more Americans who applied for security clearances was reported.

Clapper warned major breaches like the OPM hack will continue unless the government adopts a "psychology of deterrence," adding that "what we must do in the meantime is pay more attention to defense."

But national security leaders aren't saying much about exactly what kind of
penalty would be appropriate.

For example, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who serves on the House Permanent Select Committee Intelligence, suggested intelligence-gathering, the supposed purpose of the OPM hack, wouldn't necessarily be worth cyber retaliation, though a breach that destroyed data like last November's Sony hack might "merit a response," Defense One reports.

Defense One reports if the United States chooses to retaliate against whomever is ultimately blamed for the hack, "it might have a number of secret cyber weapons at its disposal. Or it might not."

"Unlike fighter jets, cyber weapons don’t make it into budget lines," Defense One reports.

"They're not subject to the same level of public scrutiny, and, even when they are used, it may not be apparent that the U.S. has struck — as the OPM case makes clear."

Rogers in April told Defense One that America would deploy cyber weapons under conventional laws of combat — in secret.

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China is the "leading suspect" in two hacks that compromised personal data for millions of federal employees, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
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Thursday, 25 Jun 2015 09:13 PM
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