Our website uses cookies

Cookies enable us to provide the best experience possible and help us understand how visitors use our website. By browsing Infosecurity Magazine, you agree to our use of cookies.

Okay, I understand Learn more

Foreign Spooks Use Hacked US Data to Root Out Spies – Report

Intelligence services in China, Russia and elsewhere are capitalizing on a treasure trove of recently hacked US government data to identify American spies, according to a new report.

Foreign powers are using data stolen from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in particular and combining it with breached information from healthcare providers like Anthem, infidelity site Ashley Madison, United Airlines, and other firms to build up a digital identity for US intelligence operatives.

This can then be used to track or even blackmail and recruit US spies, according to the Los Angeles Times.

US counter-intelligence boss, William Evanina, claimed that this activity can help identify “who is an intelligence officer, who travels where, when, who’s got financial difficulties, who’s got medical issues, [to] put together a common picture.”

He added that foreign powers were “absolutely” using this information to root out US spies, with unnamed officials pointing the finger at China and Russia as prime culprits.

Two officials told the LA Times that one undercover group of engineering and science specialists which had been supporting US spies has now had its cover blown as a result.

It’s thought that Beijing was behind the OPM and Anthem attacks, although Washington has been cautious in laying public blame at China’s door.

However, there are rumors that the US could be mulling a set of “unprecedented” economic sanctions against specific Chinese companies and individuals who are thought to have benefited from the theft of American IP.

Several unnamed “administration officials” told the Washington Post that the package could be given the green light within the next two weeks – although this is unlikely given Chinese president Xi Jinping is set to visit Obama next month for his first state visit.

A White House official told the paper that the president is prepared to impose “sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in certain significant, malicious cyber-enabled activities.”

“The administration has taken and continues to introduce steps to protect our networks and our citizens in cyberspace, and we are assessing all of our options to respond to these threats in a manner and time frame of our choosing,” the official added.

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?