Speaking at a forum in Washington, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned of the danger posed by a capable adversary like the Chinese government.
“You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did,” Clapper said.
At least 18 million people — and potentially tens of millions more around the world, including relatives, friends and associates of those who had background checks conducted by the U.S. government — may have had their personal information stolen when hackers broke into the systems of the Office of Personnel Management, authorities have said.
The question of just how big the breach was now focuses on files associated with background investigations, particularly forms known as SF-86s.
The forms require applicants to provide personal information not only about themselves but also relatives, friends and “associates” spanning several years. The forms also ask applicants about past drug use, financial history, mental health history and personal relationships.
That type of information could be exploited to pressure or trick employees into further compromising their agencies, sources have told ABC News.
The threat to national security posed by the OPM breach “is significant,” a top lawmaker said Wednesday.
“Only the imagination limits what a foreign adversary could do with detailed information about a federal employee’s education, career, health, family, friends, neighbors and personal habits,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has now held two hearings on the matter.
“It’s blown up a lot of things: protection [and] security,” Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, said of the OPM breach. “It’s a Pearl Harbor.”
Full article: China Is ‘Leading Suspect’ in Massive Hack of US Government Networks (ABC)