Posts Tagged ‘Snowden’

Big Brother Is Watching: U.S. Government Compiles Largest Consolidation of Personal Data On American Citizens in US History

July 18, 2015

By Paul Sperry

A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”

Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.

Big Brother Barack wants the databases operational before he leaves office, and much of the data in them will be posted online.

So civil-rights attorneys and urban activist groups will be able to exploit them to show patterns of “racial disparities” and “segregation,” even if no other evidence of discrimination exists.

Housing database

The granddaddy of them all is the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing database, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development rolled out earlier this month to racially balance the nation, ZIP code by ZIP code. It will map every US neighborhood by four racial groups — white, Asian, black or African-American, and Hispanic/Latino — and publish “geospatial data” pinpointing racial imbalances.

The agency proposes using nonwhite populations of 50% or higher as the threshold for classifying segregated areas.

Federally funded cities deemed overly segregated will be pressured to change their zoning laws to allow construction of more subsidized housing in affluent areas in the suburbs, and relocate inner-city minorities to those predominantly white areas. HUD’s maps, which use dots to show the racial distribution or density in residential areas, will be used to select affordable-housing sites.

HUD plans to drill down to an even more granular level, detailing the proximity of black residents to transportation sites, good schools, parks and even supermarkets. If the agency’s social engineers rule the distance between blacks and these suburban “amenities” is too far, municipalities must find ways to close the gap or forfeit federal grant money and face possible lawsuits for housing discrimination.

Civil-rights groups will have access to the agency’s sophisticated mapping software, and will participate in city plans to re-engineer neighborhoods under new community outreach requirements.

“By opening this data to everybody, everyone in a community can weigh in,” Obama said. “If you want affordable housing nearby, now you’ll have the data you need to make your case.”

Mortgage database

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, headed by former Congressional Black Caucus leader Mel Watt, is building its own database for racially balancing home loans. The so-called National Mortgage Database Project will compile 16 years of lending data, broken down by race, and hold everything from individual credit scores and employment records.

Mortgage contracts won’t be the only financial records vacuumed up by the database. According to federal documents, the repository will include “all credit lines,” from credit cards to student loans to car loans — anything reported to credit bureaus. This is even more information than the IRS collects.

The FHFA will also pry into your personal assets and debts and whether you have any bankruptcies. The agency even wants to know the square footage and lot size of your home, as well as your interest rate.

FHFA will share the info with Obama’s brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which acts more like a civil-rights agency, aggressively investigating lenders for racial bias.

The FHFA has offered no clear explanation as to why the government wants to sweep up so much sensitive information on Americans, other than stating it’s for “research” and “policymaking.”

However, CFPB Director Richard Cordray was more forthcoming, explaining in a recent talk to the radical California-based Greenlining Institute: “We will be better able to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns.”

Credit database

CFPB is separately amassing a database to monitor ordinary citizens’ credit-card transactions. It hopes to vacuum up some 900 million credit-card accounts — all sorted by race — representing roughly 85% of the US credit-card market. Why? To sniff out “disparities” in interest rates, charge-offs and collections.

Employment database

CFPB also just finalized a rule requiring all regulated banks to report data on minority hiring to an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. It will collect reams of employment data, broken down by race, to police diversity on Wall Street as part of yet another fishing expedition.

School database

Through its mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection project, the Education Department is gathering information on student suspensions and expulsions, by race, from every public school district in the country. Districts that show disparities in discipline will be targeted for reform.

Those that don’t comply will be punished. Several already have been forced to revise their discipline policies, which has led to violent disruptions in classrooms.

Obama’s educrats want to know how many blacks versus whites are enrolled in gifted-and-talented and advanced placement classes.

Schools that show blacks and Latinos under-enrolled in such curricula, to an undefined “statistically significant degree,” could open themselves up to investigation and lawsuits by the department’s Civil Rights Office.

Count on a flood of private lawsuits to piggyback federal discrimination claims, as civil-rights lawyers use the new federal discipline data in their legal strategies against the supposedly racist US school system.

Even if no one has complained about discrimination, even if there is no other evidence of racism, the numbers themselves will “prove” that things are unfair.

Such databases have never before existed. Obama is presiding over the largest consolidation of personal data in US history. He is creating a diversity police state where government race cops and civil-rights lawyers will micromanage demographic outcomes in virtually every aspect of society.

The first black president, quite brilliantly, has built a quasi-reparations infrastructure perpetually fed by racial data that will outlast his administration.

Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “The Great American Bank Robbery,” which exposes the racial politics behind the mortgage bust.

http://nypost.com/2015/07/18/obama-has-been-collecting-personal-data-for-a-secret-race-database/

NSA? IRS?

America’s global standing has been diminished — Can greatness again be found?

July 10, 2015

America’s global standing has been diminished

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Washington Monument at the turn of the millennium

Standing on the Washington Mall at the turn of the new millennium, it was impossible not to be struck by America’s power and global pre-eminence.

Victory in the Cold War made it the hegemon in a unipolar world.

Few argued when the 20th Century was dubbed the “American Century”, a term first coined in the early 1940s when the country was still overcoming its isolationist instincts.

Even the New Year’s fireworks, which illuminated the obelisk of the Washington Monument in a way that made it resemble a giant number one, projected the country’s supremacy as the world’s sole superpower.

Over the past 15 years, America’s fortunes have changed with dizzying speed.

First came the tremors: the dot-com bust and a disputed presidential election in 2000. Then came the massive convulsions: the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have exacted an enormous blood price – the lives of 6,852 American military personnel – not to mention immense financial expense, estimated to be as high as $6 trillion (£3.9tn).

The detention centre at Guantanamo Bay has undermined American ideals, just as the NSA and Wikileaks spying scandals have undercut American diplomacy.

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George W Bush, a president with a Manichean worldview, was widely seen as over-eager to project America’s military might, without adequately considering the long-term consequences.

Barack Obama, who campaigned in 2008 on a platform of extricating America from its unpopular and exhausting wars, has drawn criticism for disengaging too much.

Under both presidents – the first an impulsive unilateralist, the second an instinctive multilateralist content sometimes to lead from behind – America’s global standing has been diminished.

Lost fear factor

Polls regularly show that Americans recognise that their country’s international standing has waned.

Among the young, this trendline has fallen sharply. Only 15% of 18-29-year-olds believe that America is the “greatest country in the world”, according to Pew, down from 27% in 2011.

Tellingly, however, there has been no great public outcry.

No longer is there much appetite for America playing its long-standing role of global policeman, even in the face of the rise of the group calling itself Islamic State.

The cost, human and financial, is considered too great. Americans increasingly think that other countries should share the burden.

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Obama, while continuing to trumpet “American exceptionalism”, regularly prefaces remarks on foreign affairs by acknowledging the limits of US power, again with little public outcry.

The upshot is that the United States is no longer so keen to exert leadership in an increasingly messy world.

Yet one of the reasons why the world has become so disorderly is because America is no longer so active in imposing order.

Over the course of this century Washington has lost its fear factor.

Ignoring the White House

World leaders nowadays seem prepared to provoke the wrath of the White House, confident that it will never rain down on them.

It explains why the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after unleashing chemical weapons against his people, continues to bombard them with barrel bombs.

Why Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, and also offered a safe haven for the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

And also why Benjamin Netanyahu thumbed his nose at the Obama administration, by accepting an invitation from the Republican congressional leadership to address a joint session of Congress, a platform he used to lambast the Iran nuclear deal.

Assad’s flouting of American warnings is especially noteworthy.

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Rebel-held Douma was hit hard by Syrian government forces in February

In killing so many civilians with chemical weapons, he flagrantly crossed the “red line” imposed by Obama, but escaped punishment.

The president was unwilling to carry through on an explicit threat, in what was the biggest foreign policy climbdown of his presidency and also one of the most significant in the past 50 years.

Even supporters of Barack Obama believe he made a fatal strategic mistake, because it demonstrated endless flexibility and a lack of American resolve.

Needless to say, despots around the world took note.

Weak hand

America’s reluctance to launch new military actions has also had a major bearing on the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Tehran has managed to extract notable concessions, such as the ongoing ability to enrich uranium, hitherto ruled out by the Americans.

It has played a weak hand strongly, because it knows that America has what the foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman calls “an empty holster”.

Nor is it just America’s enemies who no longer fear the White House to the extent they once did.

In recent months, two close allies, Britain and Australia, have defied the Obama administration byjoining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

By signing up to the AIIB, they are effectively endorsing Beijing’s effort to establish financial rivals to the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which are dominated by America.

Ambiguous language

By seeking improved commercial and diplomatic relations with China, Britain and Australia are also hedging.

They suspect that America will not be the dominant Pacific military power indefinitely, nor the world’s foremost economic powerhouse.

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Other American allies would complain that the “dependability factor” has also gone.

Israel feels badly let down by the Obama administration over the Iran deal, and relations between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama are poisonous.

The president, by using deliberately ambiguous language, has even signalled that his administration might end its traditional protection of Israel at the United Nations.

Like Israel, Saudi Arabia has been enraged by the prospective nuclear deal with the Iranians.

Riyadh also knows that America is no longer so dependent on its oil, the cornerstone of the relationship since the end of World War Two.

Egypt was angered in 2012 when Obama said Cairo was neither an ally nor an enemy.

Later, the State Department issued an embarrassing correction, and reinstated Cairo as a “major non-Nato ally.”

No massaging

Maybe Obama’s Egyptian error, and the slight it conveyed, was truly a Freudian slip.

After all, he hasn’t invested the same energy nurturing alliances as his predecessors. The detached air that has been a hallmark of his presidency also extends to foreign affairs.

America’s diplomacy has also been complicated by the dysfunction and hyper-partisanship in Washington

Here, I gather, Obama recognises intellectually that he could do far more in terms of massaging the egos of world leaders, but cannot quite bring himself to do so.

Indeed, a common complaint is that the Obama administration has prioritised normalising relations with its one-time enemies, Iran and Cuba, at the expense of fostering longstanding friendships.

Realising that America is no longer so supportive, and no longer so engaged in the Middle East, the Saudis have recently taken military action of their own in Yemen.

There’s also been a warming of relations between Riyadh and Moscow.

And Egypt launched airstrikes in February against the Islamic State group in Libya.

America’s standing in the Middle East has unquestionably waned, along with its ability to shape events.

Unexpected stats

More surprising has been its slippage in Africa, Obama’s ancestral home, and Asia, the focus of his much vaunted pivot.

In Asia, America’s median approval rating in 2014, as measured by Gallup, was 39%, a 6% drop since 2011.

In Africa, the median approval went down to 59%, the lowest since polling began, despite Obama hosting the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington in August, last year.

It even dropped in Kenya, his father’s birthplace.

America’s diplomacy has also been complicated by the dysfunction and hyper-partisanship in Washington.

Republican lawmakers actively sought to derail the Iran nuclear deal by sending a letter to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

President or Congress?

House speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress, knowing it would infuriate the White House.

Democrats with reservations about free trade have tried to sabotage the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest trade deal since Nafta.

There’s also been strong congressional opposition to one of the big plays of Obama’s second term, the rapprochement with Cuba.

Should countries listen to the president or Congress?

America cannot even lay claim any more to its great, uncontested boast since 1872, of being the world’s largest economy.

The IMF now estimates that China’s economy is fractionally bigger.

Yet it would be a mistake to exaggerate the downsizing of American influence.

US military spending continues to dwarf its rivals, and up until last year amounted to more than the next 10 countries combined.

In 2014, America spent $731bn, compared to China’s $143bn.

Even though China’s economy is now larger, America’s per capita spending power is in a different league – $53,000 to $11,868.

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Though America is contending with the rise of the rest – China, India, Brazil, Germany and Russia – it has not yet been overtaken by emergent rivals.

Indeed, there are foreign policy thinkers here who predict that America will preserve its pre-eminence for at least another 20 years.

Yet the unipolar moment ushered in by the fall of the Berlin Wall has proved to be just that: momentary.

Moreover, hopes of a new world order following the collapse of the Soviet Union have given way to widespread pessimism about the spread, even the contagion, of global disorder.

Gone are the certainties of America’s Cold War thinking, when the containment of communism governed its international actions.

Gone are the doctrines that gave US foreign policy such a rigid frame, throughout the Cold War and in the aftermath of 9/11.

Gone, too, is the notion that every fight is an American fight and along with it a redefinition of what constitutes the US national interest.

Barack Obama has instead advocated pragmatism and diplomatic dexterity, trying to steer a path between America being overextended and undercommitted.

Maybe the overriding challenge for US diplomacy over the next 20 years is to strike the proper balance.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33440287

Washington Post: President Obama Must Get Action From China on Cyber Attacks — or Retaliate

July 6, 2015

The washington Post

THE OTHER shoe is expected to drop this week on the disastrous loss of confidential information from the databases of the Office of Personnel Management. The agency is expected to reveal the extent to which information from security investigations of current, former and prospective federal employees and contractors was compromised. The background checks often unearth sensitive and intimate matters, and the loss may put many at risk of blackmail. The agency is expected to reveal this week how many dossiers were taken, but reports suggest it was in the millions. The breach comes on top of a separate intrusion in which personally identifiable information on 4.2 million federal workers was filched from the OPM databases.

President Obama ought to be far more steamed about the break-ins than he appears. The OPM director, Katherine Archuleta, knew as well as anyone how sensitive the data was, yet the door to her agency was apparently left ajar. Thieves walked out with an intelligence goldmine, the most intimate details about U.S. public servants, including those who handle the most highly classified secrets of the United States. This was an unforgivable failure of stewardship that should lead to firings for incompetence. Ms. Archuleta,confronted with questions on Capitol Hill, refused to shoulder any blame. “I don’t believe anyone” at the agency “is personally responsible,” she said. “If there is anyone to blame, it is the perpetrators.”

The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper, said China is the “leading suspect” in the breach. The FBI has issued a “flash” alert that did not specify China as the origin, but identified some malware — including a remote access tool called Sakula — that has previously been associated with Chinese cyberattacks. A Reuters report has pointed out that Sakula was also used in an attack on the mammoth health insurer Anthem this year. The report quotes sources saying that the perpetrators did not seem to be the usual Chinese outfits that try to steal military and industrial secrets through espionage, but another group affiliated with China’s Ministry of State Security. This is a worrisome prospect. The Chinese security service may be attempting to use the stolen personal data from Anthem and from OPM to build a directory of Americans who work in sensitive government positions and who can be targeted for further espionage.

Spying is a constant in international relations, but this particular theft is not business as usual. The Chinese would like to have a smooth, harmonious summit when presidents Xi Jinping and Obama meet in September. Mr. Obama should put China on notice today that such theft is inconsistent with harmony at the table — and he’s mad as hell about it. If that doesn’t get Beijing’s attention, the United States should begin preparations for retaliation aimed specifically at the alleged Chinese attackers. Not all of the broad U.S.-China bilateral relationship needs to be put at risk, but the thieves must feel the heat. It is the only way to deter future attacks.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-opm-cyberattack-was-a-breach-too-far/2015/07/05/de2b98b2-20e9-11e5-aeb9-a411a84c9d55_story.html?hpid=z6

Related:

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Two years after Snowden, NSA revelations still hurting US tech firms in China

July 3, 2015

By James Griffiths
South China Morning Post

Edward Snowden began leaking information two years ago that could cost US firms tens of billions of dollars in lost business overseas. Photo: AFP

Revelations of digital surveillance by American spy agencies could end up costing US firms billions of dollars in lost business and lawmakers in Washington are falling short in their duty to address the issue, a US think tank has said.

Tech firms, in particular, have underperformed in foreign markets following the leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, according to a paper published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

“Our original thought was once policy makers realised this was having an impact on business interests, they would take more aggressive action to address the concerns,” Daniel Castro, ITIF vice president, told the South China Morning Post. He helped author the report.

The ITIF predicted in 2013 that “even a modest drop” in the foreign market share for cloud computing could cost the US economy up to US$35 billion by 2016.

That now looks like a conservative estimate as the revelations of cyber-snooping have negatively affected “the whole US tech industry,” the report said.

READ MORE: UK and US spy agencies targeted Russian and Chinese anti-virus firms: Snowden leaks

Cloud computing firms and data centres have been some of the worst hit, with foreign companies choosing to avoid storing their data in the US following revelations about the NSA’s digital surveillance programmes.

A 2014 survey of British and Canadian businesses by Vancouver-based Peer 1 Hosting found that 25 per cent of respondents planned to pull data out of the US due to fears relating to data privacy.

In February, Beijing dropped a number of major American tech firms from its official state procurement list, including network equipment maker Cisco Systems, Apple, and security firm McAfee.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff recently met with her US counterpart Barack Obama after a long period of estrangement triggered by US spying claims. Photo: AP

“The Snowden incident, it’s become a real concern, especially for top leaders,” Tu Xinquan, associate director of the China Institute of WTO Studies in Beijing, told Reuters in April.

“In some sense, the American government has some responsibility for that. [China’s] concerns have some legitimacy.”

The White House and US International Trade Administration declined to comment on the matter, when contacted by the Post.

IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have all reported diminished sales in China as a result of the NSA revelations, which first emerged in the summer of 2013.

The NSA was found to have tapped into the servers of major internet players like Facebook, Google and Yahoo to track online communication, among other forms of digital surveillance.

Chinese firms have also suffered due to security concerns, particularly in the US.

In 2012, a Congressional committee said that smartphone makers Huawei and ZTE were a national security threat because of their alleged ties with the Chinese government.

READ MORE: Ex-CIA chief Hayden claims Huawei spies for Chinese state

In April, US officials blocked technology exports to Chinese facilities associated with the Tianhe-2 supercomputer project, a blow to Intel and other hardware suppliers.

Even political parties in Germany have begun lampooning the US in response to its covert digital surveillance of key search engines and anti-virus software. Photo: AFP

“Both countries are looking into restrictions because of security, that’s not a good idea for either of them,” said Castro.

The ITIF paper recommends establishing international legal standards for government access to data, and developing what it terms a “Geneva Convention on the Status of Data”.

“We need to take certification out of the national level and move it to the international level. We don’t want each country to set security standards,” Castro said.

He warned that China’s pursuance of “protectionist” policies in the name of security could backfire if other countries follow suit and adopt standards that favour domestic over foreign firms for key infrastructure projects.

“China doesn’t want every other country to say ‘We have security concerns about you and refuse to buy your products,’” he added.

Castro pointed to China’s new security legislation, passed by the country’s top legislature on Wednesday, to shore up his argument that Beijing is “still going down that path”.

The sweeping law defines the scope of national security in far-reaching terms, ranging from finance, economy, politics, the military and cybersecurity to culture, ideology and religion.

One clause deals with establishing systems “for the protection of cyber and information security”.

Washington must respond if China keeps pursuing such protectionist policies but this will be problematic until concerns about NSA spying have been addressed, Castro said.

“At the end of the day, it is very hard to say with a straight face that you should buy US tech products, if the [US] government is not willing to stand up and say ‘We will not use this as a way to conduct surveillance in your countries.’”

China’s Cyber Attack on OPM “Just the beginning of the U.S.’s cybersecurity problems”

July 1, 2015

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By Peter Roff

The end of the week before a long weekend is always a good time to get rid of a nettlesome employee without anyone taking very much notice. Most people are headed out of town, newspapers operate with skeleton staffs and bloggers are at the beach.

Knowing this, it would probably be a good idea if Katherine Archuleta, the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, started polishing her resume and getting her affairs in order. In her current position, she’s probably not long for the world.

Congressional Republicans are calling for her head. The media is asking penetrating questions. Most ominously, for her anyway, the White House is making a point of standing behind her. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended her last week saying “the administration and the president continue to believe that she’s the right person for the job.”

If anyone has yet to figure it out, Archuleta is being set up to take the rap for the hack, probably by the Chinese, of sensitive U.S. computer systems that let the unredacted records of millions, if not tens of millions, of federal employees out into the open.

[SEE: Chinese Hacking Cartoons]

There are a lot of reasons this is bad, most of them obvious. Some are not. According to one former senior U.S. government official with expertise in cybersecurity with whom I spoke, the hack may have exposed the covert identities of intelligence officers working undercover as U.S. government employees in non-security related agencies.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the number of “information security incidents” in which federal data was compromised – which is a softer way of saying stolen – has risen from 5,503 in 2006 to 67,168 in 2014. That information was conveyed to the U.S. House Homeland Security committee by Gregory Wilshusen, the GAO information security director, who, according to the Washington Times, also said the National Cybersecurity Protection System may just not be effective at keeping intruders out of government data.

What happened on Archuleta’s watch is as damaging as the leaks coming from Edward Snowden and others who have managed to penetrate America’s cybersecurity shield. Someone has to be held accountable, and it’s probably going to be her. But there’s a more outrageous problem that very few have heretofore noticed: Federal, state and local governments are already doing business with the Chinese in the cybersecurity arena.

ChinaSoft is a Chinese-owned company that provides a plethora of IT services including strategic consulting to over 60 industries. According to its website, these services include e-government. In November 2013, it merged with a company called Catapult Systems. The combined company has a client base that includes the United States Air Force Space Operations Center, ERCOT (which runs the Texas electric grid), the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of Education.

[SEE: Congress Cartoons]

Does it matter that a Chinese-owned company is performing work on U.S. government systems? The short answer, especially in light of the most recent hack, is almost unambiguously yes. Hiring a foreign owned firm increases the risk that insiders with access to some parts of the system may acquire the information necessary to hack the rest.

This is the debate surrounding Huawei, a Chinese-owned telecommunications company that wanted to supply the government with telecommunications equipment and services. In October 2012, the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence went so far as to issue a report on the threat this Chinese company posed to our national security. The report went so far as to recommend that private sector companies steer clear of it. ChinaSoft and Catapult Systems aren’t Huawei, but it doesn’t take a great leap to be concerned about the risk to the integrity of U.S. systems in cyberspace posed by foreign-owned companies.

It is a mistake, one that Congress should look into, to have critical cyberspace infrastructure responsibilities protecting personal information and sensitive data run by companies that are not owned and based in the United States. Otherwise it’s like asking Willie Sutton to not just guard the bank but to design its security measures to boot.

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2015/07/01/chinas-opm-hack-just-the-beginning-of-us-cybersecurity-problems

Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Formerly a senior political writer for United Press International, he’s now affiliated with several public policy organizations, including Let Freedom Ring and Frontiers of Freedom. His writing has appeared in National Review, Fox News’ opinion section, The Daily Caller, Politico and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.

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China’s New Security Law: Internet Controls get Tougher

July 1, 2015

By STEVE ROSENBUSH
Wall Street Journal

China on Wednesday enacted a broad security law that covers everything from national sovereignty to network infrastructure and IT systems. The law raises fears among some businesses, who wonder if they will be required to give up their source code if they want to do business in the massive Chinese market, according to Reuters. “A core component of the law, passed by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), is to make all key network infrastructure and information systems ‘secure and controllable,’” Reuters said.

Foreign business groups and diplomats have expressed fear that the law could require “that technology firms make products in China or use source code released to inspectors, forcing them to reveal intellecutual property” Reuters said.

New laws in China, along with tougher tech regulations and enforcement emerging in Europe, follow revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the U.S. practice of embedding code in tech exports, to facilitate its own snooping. “The fact that these different pieces of legislation are all moving forward in tandem indicates the seriousness of Beijing’s commitment as well as the growing influence of hardliners shaping China’s technology policy agenda,” Samm Sacks, an analyst at Eurasia Group, said in an email cited by Reuters.

Longtime McKesson MCK +0.44% CIO says focus shifted to Business From IT. Heading into his final weeks as CIO and CTO at the pharmaceutical distributor before he transfers power to Kathy McElligott next month, McKesson Corp.‘s Randy Spratt says the role has evolved to become more business-centric and less concerned with operating complicated technologies. “The job becomes more about brokering and managing your partners just as marketing might broker and manage their partners,” Mr. Spratt tells CIO Journal.

Attacks lead boards to call for centralized security approach. Companies need to centralize cybersecurity policy and not leave it up to business groups in various countries, Richard Goodman, board director and chair of the audit committee at several Fortune 500 companies, tells CIO Journal. “You can’t give people in the field decision-making authority about whether you decide to do something or not on cybersecurity,” said Mr. Goodman, who is on the boards of Johnson Controls Inc JCI +1.41%.Kindred Healthcare Inc KND +0.30%.Western Union Co. and Toys ‘R’ Us Inc.

A matter of degrees. Companies, and IT departments in particular, need to move beyond requiring a four-year college degree for open job positions, says CIO Journal Columnist Gary Beach. “I have yet to hear a chief information officer articulate a rational explanation of what value a college degree brings to their team. Not one,” he writes.

EUROPE

Members of the European Parliament, with papers on their desks with the word “Roaming” crossed, take part in a vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, in March.Reuters

 

EU backs diluted net neutrality law. The European Union agreed to a final version of a law that would enshrine the equal treatment of Internet traffic starting next year and would scrap cellphone roaming costs starting mid-2017, the WSJ’s Natalia Drozdiak reports. But the law is milder than one recently introduced in the U.S. because it would allow operators to enter into agreements that ensure a minimum Internet quality for special services, such as video conferencing or surgery, as long as they don’t impede Web access for other users. Blocking or restricting Web traffic would also be allowed in some cases, such as to counter cyberattacks or ease the flow of traffic.

Uber execs in France face trial. French prosecutors on Tuesday ordered Uber Technologies Inc. executives Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty and Thibaud Simphal to stand trial on a raft of charges that could bring fines and jail time. French officials have said since last autumn that Uberpop, a service that connects unlicensed drivers with passengers, is illegal, but so far have cracked down mainly on Uberpop drivers, not Uber itself, the WSJ’s Sam Schechner and Inti Landauro report.

Europeans seek shelter in gold, bitcoin. Following fears of a Greek exit from the eurozone, demand for both age-old commodity gold and new virtual currency bitcoin has risen, the WSJ’s Michael J. Casey reports.

MORE TECHNOLOGY NEWS

A Tesla charging station in Nephi, Utah. Free charging is one of the incentives the firm offers to Tesla owners.George Frey/Bloomberg News

 

The ultimate first world problem. Free charging at company-run stations is one of a handful of unique incentives aimed at owners of Tesla Motor Inc. vehicles, the WSJ reports. But even as Tesla has poured millions of dollars in creating a global network of free charges, owners of the $76,200 and up luxury sedans feel there still are not enough. It can take over 30 minutes to charge a Tesla and the lines at charging stations are getting longer.

FBI investigates attacks on fiber optic cables. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is investigating a string of attacks against fiber optic cables in the San Francisco Bay Area dating back a year, the WSJ’s Drew Fitzgerald reportsMicrosoft Corp.MSFT +0.75% on Tuesday reported a slowdown in its Azure cloud computing service in the western U.S. linked to cut fiber after several cables in Livermore, Calif. were cut in the latest attack.

VMware VMW -1.19% pays $75.5 million to settle federal government lawsuit. VMware Inc. and a reseller partner will pay the federal government $75.5 million to settle a lawsuit that said the virtualization software firm overcharged the General Services Administration, Business Insider reports. The suit was orginally filed in 2010.

Former Obama campaigners automate Big Data. Some of the data scientists behind President Obama’s successful 2012 campaign have started their own company, Civis Analytics, which taps the computing power of Amazon Web Services to help automate big analysis tasks such as pattern finding, the New York Times NYT +1.54% reports.Airbnb Inc. and The Boeing Co. are among the customers.

H-P ‘sHPQ +0.93% enterprise chief is moving on. Bill Veghte, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Enterprise Group chief, is leaving the company to ”pursue a new opportunity,” the WSJ’s Robert McMillan reports. The departure comes as H-P plans to split into two companies, including one focused on enterprise technology. The former Microsoft Corp. executive was hired by Mark Hurd in 2010 to build H-P’s software business

Cisco CSCO -0.42% to buy network security company OpenDNS. Cisco Systems Inc. said it agreed to buy OpenDNS, the latest move by the networking giant to boost its security business, says the Journal’s Don Clark and Lisa Beilfuss. OpenDNS, which maintains a network of domain name servers to help route Web traffic, says its services can help block computer attacks from particular Internet domains and can encrypt Web traffic in ways that limit eavesdropping and other threats.

Goldman to pay $7 million over options glitch. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.GS +0.31% agreed to pay $7 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent a technical glitch that sent out thousands of erroneous trades in August 2013, the WSJ reports. In its order, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that Goldman lacked the safeguards to stop a software program from sending 16,000 mispriced options orders in less than an hour.

Apple AAPL +0.66% loses federal appeal in e-books case. A federal appeals court upheld a 2013 decision finding Apple Inc. liable for conspiring with publishers to raise the price of e-books, the WSJ’s Joe Palazzolo reports. The iPhone maker is expected to pay $450 million, most of it to e-book consumers, as part of a November agreement with private plaintiffs and 33 states that joined the Justice Department’s 2012 lawsuit accusing Apple of violating civil antitrust law.

Sprint S -0.00% hangs up on throttling policy. Sprint Corp. said it would end a policy of slowing video speeds for unlimited data customers, after an outcry over the practice undermined the carrier’s attempt to promote a new phone plan Tuesday, theWSJ’s Ryan Knutson reports. The company said it has engaged in practice known as throttling for two years, but only recently began disclosing it more prominently after the U.S. implemented new net neutrality rules that took effect June 12.

EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW

Greece defaults on IMF loan. Greece became the first advanced economy to default on loans from the IMF, despite a last-minute push by Athens for emergency aid. As Greece missed its deadline to pay back $1.7 billion, many economists pointed tomissteps by the fund itself when it failed to demand immediate debt restructuring and relied on far-too-optimistic growth forecasts. At home and in the streets, Greeks areweighing the monumental choice they have to make on Sunday: more financial pain to stay with the euro, or the uncertainty of being cut loose.

Why U.S. banks won’t suffer big hits after Greek default. U.S. lenders in recent years have reduced the amount of Greek debt they held on their books. Still, analysts said it could disrupt financial markets enough to weigh down future results.

Bosses reclassify workers to cut costs. As scrutiny into the relationship between businesses and independent contractors rises, employers find ways to take workers off the formal payroll and lower costs. The moves include setting up workers as franchisees or owners of limited liability companies, which helps to shield businesses from tax and labor statutes.

The Morning Download comes from the editors of CIO Journal and cues up the most important news in business technology every weekday morning. Send us your tips, compliments and complaints. You can get The Morning Download emailed to you each weekday morning by clicking http://on.wsj.com/TheMorningDownloadSignup.

http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/07/01/the-morning-download-chinas-new-security-law-expands-network-controls/

‘Edward Snowden has blood on his hands’: MI6 is forced to pull spies out of hostile countries

June 14, 2015

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  • Classified files could lead to identification of British and American spies
  • Spy chiefs in Russia and China have cracked one million top-secret files
  • Home Office official has accused Snowden of having ‘blood on his hands’
  • Security services have ‘had difficulties tracking terrorists’ since the leaks 

MI6 has pulled its spies out of ‘hostile countries’ and America’s intelligence agencies are on high alert after Russia and China cracked encrypted files leaked by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The top-secret documents contain information that could lead to the identification of British and American spies, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.

A senior Home Office official accused Snowden – the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor responsible for the biggest confidential information leak in US history – of having ‘blood on his hands’ after they gained access to over one million files.

Leaked: MI6 has pulled its spies out of 'hostile countries' after Russia and China cracked encrypted files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden (pictured) which could identify its agents

Aides in British Prime Minister David Cameron's office have confirmed the top-secret material is now in the hands of spy chiefs in Moscow (President Vladimir Putin, left) and Beijing (President Xi Jinping, right)

Security services have reported increasing difficulties in tracking terrorists and dangerous criminals via email, chat rooms and social media since he exposed Western intelligence-gathering methods, the Sunday Times reports.

Now aides in British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office have confirmed the top-secret material is now in the hands of spy chiefs in Moscow and Beijing.

A senior Downing Street source told the Sunday Times: ‘It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information.

‘It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information.’

A British intelligence source added: ‘Snowden has done incalculable damage. In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to prevent them from being identified and killed.

John Oliver grills Ed Snowden over leaked NSA documents

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nowden said he was protecting 'privacy and basic liberties' by leaking over one million confidential files and claimed America's NSA and British-based GCHQ (pictured) were spying on innocent people

nowden said he was protecting ‘privacy and basic liberties’ by leaking over one million confidential files and claimed America’s NSA and British-based GCHQ (pictured) were spying on innocent people

A senior Home Office official accused Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), of having 'blood on his hands' after Russia and China gained access to over one million files

A senior Home Office official accused Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), of having ‘blood on his hands’ after Russia and China gained access to over one million files

Security services have reported increasing difficulties in tracking since Snowden (pictured) exposed Western intelligence-gathering methods

Security services have reported increasing difficulties in tracking since Snowden (pictured) exposed Western intelligence-gathering methods

‘We know Russia and China have access to Snowden’s material and will be going through it for years to come, searching for clues to identify potential targets.’

Former GCHQ director Sir David Omand believes the leak represents a ‘huge strategic setback’ which is ‘harming to Britain, America and their NATO allies’.

Snowden has done incalculable damage. In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to prevent them from being identified and killed
British intelligence source

He said the leak could spark a ‘global intelligence arms race’, adding: ‘I have no doubt whatever that programmes are being launched and money is being spent to try and catch up.

‘That’s probably true not just of China and Russia but a number of other nations who have seen some of this material to be published.

‘I am not at all surprised that people are being pulled back and operations where people are exposed are having to be shut down, at least for the moment.’

An official at British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office has played down the threat posed to agents by saying there is ‘no evidence of anyone being harmed’.

Snowden fled the United States for Moscow in 2013 after he released 1.7 million secret documents from Western intelligence agencies to the media – and has remained under the protection of President Vladimir Putin’s regime ever since.

Snowden said he was protecting ‘privacy and basic liberties’ and claimed America’s NSA and British-based GCHQ were carrying out massive surveillance programmes which target millions of innocent people.

Anonymous artists erect Snowden statue in New York park

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Edward Snowden is hailed as a hero by some but a British intelligence source has accused him of doing 'incalculable damage'

Edward Snowden is hailed as a hero by some but a British intelligence source has accused him of doing ‘incalculable damage’

David Miranda (left) the boyfriend of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was seized at Heathrow in 2013 in possession of 58,000 'highly classified' intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow

David Miranda (left) the boyfriend of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was seized at Heathrow in 2013 in possession of 58,000 ‘highly classified’ intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow

Another intelligence source in the United States said the damage done by Snowden was ‘far greater than what has been admitted’.

It is unclear whether Snowden voluntarily handed over the secret documents to remain in Hong Kong and Moscow, or whether the countries stole his data.

But a senior Home Office source said: ‘Why do you think Snowden ended up in Russia?

‘Putin didn’t give him asylum for nothing. His documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted.’

David Miranda, the boyfriend of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was seized at Heathrow in 2013 in possession of 58,000 ‘highly classified’ intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow.

During the ensuing court hearing Oliver Robbins, then deputy national security adviser in the Cabinet Office, said that the release of the information ‘would do serious damage to UK national security, and ultimately put lives at risk’.

Eventually the High Court ruled there was ‘compelling evidence’ that stopping Miranda was ‘imperative in the interests of national security’ and publishing the documents would endanger lives.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3123208/Britain-forced-withdraw-spies-U-S-high-alert-Russia-China-access-secret-files-stolen-NSA-whistleblower-Edward-Snowden.html#ixzz3d2ojwrtS
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Britain Pulls Spies Out of Russia, China — “Our agents and assets being targeted” as a Result of Snowden, Cyber Hacking, Leaks

June 14, 2015

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has pulled out agents from live operations in “hostile countries” after Russia and China cracked top-secret information contained in files leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the Sunday Times reported.

Security service MI6, which operates overseas and is tasked with defending British interests, has removed agents from certain countries, the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials at the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Home Office (interior ministry) and security services.

Snowden downloaded more than 1.7 million secret files from security agencies in the United States and Britain in 2013, and leaked details about mass surveillance of phone and internet communications.

The United States wants Snowden to stand trial after he leaked classified documents, fled the country and was eventually granted asylum in Moscow in 2013.

He went to Russia via Hong Kong, and although he claimed in 2013 that the encrypted files remained secure, Britain believed both Russia and China had cracked documents which contain details that could allow British and American spies to be identified, the newspaper said, citing officials.

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appears live via video during a student organized world affairs conference at the Upper Canada College private high school in Toronto, February 2, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Snowden had done a huge amount of damage to the West’s ability to protect its citizens.

“As to the specific allegations this morning, we never comment on operational intelligence matters so I’m not going to talk about what we have or haven’t done in order to mitigate the effect of the Snowden revelations, but nobody should be in any doubt that Edward Snowden has caused immense damage,” he told Sky News.

An official at Cameron’s office was quoted, however, as saying that there was “no evidence of anyone being harmed.” A spokeswoman at Cameron’s office declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

A Home Office source told the newspaper that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not grant Snowden asylum for nothing.

“His documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted,” the source said.

A British intelligence source said Snowden had done “incalculable damage”.

“In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to stop them being identified and killed,” the source was quoted as saying.

British security agencies declined to comment.

The Russian and Chinese governments were not immediately available for comment.

TIMING

The revelations about the impact of Snowden on intelligence operations comes days after Britain’s terrorism law watchdog said the rules governing the security services’ abilities to spy on the public needed to be overhauled.

Conservative lawmaker and former minister Andrew Mitchell said the timing of the report was “no accident”.

“There is a big debate going on,” he told BBC radio. “We are going to have legislation bought back to parliament (…) about the way in which individual liberty and privacy is invaded in the interest of collective national security.

“That’s a debate we certainly need to have.”

Cameron has promised a swathe of new security measures, including more powers to monitor Briton’s communications and online activity in what critics have dubbed a “snoopers’ charter”.

Britain’s terrorism laws reviewer David Anderson said on Thursday the current system was “undemocratic, unnecessary and – in the long run – intolerable”.

He called for new safeguards, including judges not ministers approving warrants for intrusive surveillance, and said there needed to be a compelling case for any extensions of powers.

(Reporting By Costas Pitas and Paul Sandle; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Polina Devitt; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalind Russell)

U.S. Government Reveals “Second Data Breach” By Chinese Hackers — Obama Considers Sanctions

June 13, 2015


WASHINGTON (AP) — Deeply personal information submitted by U.S. intelligence and military personnel for security clearances – mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests, bankruptcies and more – is in the hands of hackers linked to China, officials say.

In describing a cyberbreach of federal records dramatically worse than first acknowledged, authorities point to Standard Form 86, which applicants are required to complete. Applicants also must list contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of U.S. intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant’s Social Security number and that of his or her cohabitant are required.

In a statement, the White House said that on June 8, investigators concluded there was “a high degree of confidence that … systems containing information related to the background investigations of current, former and prospective federal government employees, and those for whom a federal background investigation was conducted, may have been exfiltrated.”

“This tells the Chinese the identities of almost everybody who has got a United States security clearance,” said Joel Brenner, a former top U.S. counterintelligence official. “That makes it very hard for any of those people to function as an intelligence officer. The database also tells the Chinese an enormous amount of information about almost everyone with a security clearance. That’s a gold mine. It helps you approach and recruit spies.”

The Office of Personnel Management, which was the target of the hack, did not respond to requests for comment. OPM spokesman Samuel Schumach and Jackie Koszczuk, the director of communications, have consistently said there was no evidence that security clearance information had been compromised.

The White House statement said the hack into the security clearance database was separate from the breach of federal personnel data announced last week – a breach that is itself appearing far worse than first believed. It could not be learned whether the security database breach happened when an OPM contractor was hacked in 2013, an attack that was discovered last year. Members of Congress received classified briefings about that breach in September, but there was no public mention of security clearance information being exposed.

Nearly all of the millions of security clearance holders, including some CIA, National Security Agency and military special operations personnel, are potentially exposed in the security clearance breach, the officials said. More than 4 million people had been investigated for a security clearance as of October 2014, according to government records.

Regarding the hack of standard personnel records announced last week, two people briefed on the investigation disclosed Friday that as many as 14 million current and former civilian U.S. government employees have had their information exposed to hackers, a far higher figure than the 4 million the Obama administration initially disclosed.

American officials have said that cybertheft originated in China and that they suspect espionage by the Chinese government, which has denied any involvement.

The newer estimate puts the number of compromised records between 9 million and 14 million going back to the 1980s, said one congressional official and one former U.S. official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because information disclosed in the confidential briefings includes classified details of the investigation.

There are about 2.6 million executive branch civilians, so the majority of the records exposed relate to former employees. Contractor information also has been stolen, officials said. The data in the hack revealed last week include the records of most federal civilian employees, though not members of Congress and their staffs, members of the military or staff of the intelligence agencies.

On Thursday, a major union said it believes the hackers stole Social Security numbers, military records and veterans’ status information, addresses, birth dates, job and pay histories; health insurance, life insurance and pension information; and age, gender and race data.

The personnel records would provide a foreign government an extraordinary roadmap to blackmail, impersonate or otherwise exploit federal employees in an effort to gain access to U.S. secrets -or entry into government computer networks.

Outside experts were pointing to the breaches as a blistering indictment of the U.S. government’s ability to secure its own data two years after a National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, was able to steal tens of thousands of the agency’s most sensitive documents.

After the Snowden revelations about government surveillance, it became more difficult for the federal government to hire talented younger people into sensitive jobs, particularly at intelligence agencies, said Evan Lesser, managing director of ClearanceJobs.com, a website that matches security-clearance holders to available slots.

“Now, if you get a job with the government, your own personal information may not be secure,” he said. “This is going to multiply the government’s hiring problems many times.”

The Social Security numbers were not encrypted, the American Federation of Government Employees said, calling that “an abysmal failure on the part of the agency to guard data that has been entrusted to it by the federal workforce.”

“Unencrypted information of this kind this is disgraceful – it really is disgraceful,” Brenner said. “We’ve had wakeup calls now for 20 years or more, and we keep hitting the snooze button.”

The OPM’s Schumach would not address how the data was protected or specifics of the information that might have been compromised, but said, “Today’s adversaries are sophisticated enough that encryption alone does not guarantee protection.” OPM is nonetheless increasing its use of encryption, he said.

The Obama administration had acknowledged that up to 4.2 million current and former employees whose information resides in the Office of Personnel Management server are affected by the December cyberbreach, but it had been vague about exactly what was taken.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a letter Thursday to OPM director Katherine Archuleta that based on incomplete information OPM provided to the union, “the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree and up to 1 million former federal employees.”

Another federal employee group, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said Friday that “at this point, we believe AFGE’s assessment of the breach is overstated.” It called on the OPM to provide more information.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, one-time chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last week that he believes China will use the recently stolen information for “the mother of all spear-phishing attacks.”

Spear-phishing is a technique under which hackers send emails designed to appear legitimate so that users open them and load spyware onto their networks.

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

**************************

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday revealed that hackers had breached a second computer system at the Office of Personnel Management, and said that President Obama was considering financial sanctions against the attackers who gained access to the files of millions of federal workers.

…..

But on Friday, officials said they believed that a separate computer system at the agency was breached by the same hackers, putting at risk not only data about the federal employees, but also information about friends, family members and associates that could number millions more. Officials said that the second system contained files related to intelligence officials working for the F.B.I., defense contractors and other government agencies.

……

A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that investigators became aware of the second intrusion while assessing the damage from the first breach. The official said the information apparently taken in the second breach appeared not to be limited to federal employees.

The database contains copies of what is known as Standard Form 86, a questionnaire filled out by applicants for national security positions. The 127-page form can include medical data, including information on treatment or hospitalization for “an emotional or mental health condition.”

In addition, the form asks for detailed information on close relatives and “people who know you well.” The form has spaces for each contact’s home or work address, email address, phone number and other information.

The personnel office has said that the number of federal employees and applicants affected could rise beyond the four million already reported. If the relatives and close contacts are included, the total number of people affected could be several times as high, officials said.

At the White House, officials said that Mr. Obama was weighing the use of an executive order he signed in April that allows the Treasury secretary to impose sanctions on individuals or groups that engage in malicious cyberattacks, or people who benefit from them.

Read the rest:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/13/us/white-house-weighs-sanctions-after-second-breach-of-a-computer-system.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

China accuses US of ‘slander’ over hacking accusations

June 5, 2015

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Global Times, a Chinese state newspaper, refutes that Chinese nationals are behind latest US security breach that saw 4m government employees’ details stolen

At a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs press briefing on Friday, new reports pointing to China were labelled as

At a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs press briefing on Friday, new reports pointing to China were labelled as “irresponsible” Photo: Blend Images / Alamy
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A Chinese state newspaper has accused the American media of “slander” over suggestions that China is behind a massive US government data hack that affected 4 million people.

Following the announcement on Thursday that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) database had been attacked, Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was thought to have originated in China. The claim was subsequently reported in the American media.

In response, a popular Chinese state-run newspaper, The Global Times, published a editorial on Thursday, entitled “Four million US government workers hit by data breach, China was blamed without any hesitation”, in a defensive response to what Chinese officials are calling “irresponsible” allegations.

The editorial went on to say: “Although the investigation has just begun, American investigators believe that ‘they can trace the breach to the Chinese government’…However, American officials from the OPM who reported this case cannot be sure who is responsible.”

It went on to say The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal had been to report that Chinese hackers were responsible for the breach.

“In fact, it is not the first time that the American media and institutions blame China for internet security [breaches]. However, no evidence has been presented so far.”

In July 2014, there were reports that Chinese nationals had broken into the computer networks of the United States government agency that houses the personal information of all federal employees.

At a Chinese ministry of foreign affairs press briefing on Friday, new reports pointing to China were labelled as “irresponsible”.

“Cyber attacks are generally anonymous and conducted across borders and their origins are hard to trace,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. “Not to carry out a deep investigation and keep using words such as ‘possible’ is irresponsible and unscientific,” reported Reuters.

Gao Cheng, the deputy researcher from National Institute of International Strategy of China Academy of Social Sciences, posted on his Weibo microblog on Friday:

“I can only say, if it was not done by China, the US just slandered China viciously. If it was done by China, then good job! Years ago, before Snowden [came forward]…the US cried ‘stop thief’ while acting a thief itself, it slandered China on the issue of cyber attacks while standing on the high moral ground.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/11653508/China-accuses-US-of-slander-over-hacking-accusations.html

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