With somewhere between 18-30 million government employees having their personnel information hacked by the Chinese government from the Office of Personnel Management, Katherine Archuleta who headed up OPM should have been fired outright rather than be allowed to resign. The OPM hack is being lauded as the most damaging espionage operation in America’s history.
With the information gained from the OPM compromises, which the government is still trying to whitewash, China will be able to zero in on our intelligence professionals, expose them, or worse yet, blackmail them and turn them into Chinese intelligence assets. The information stolen from OPM can also be used for social engineering, helping Chinese hackers gain access to other classified systems. The list of follow on attacks that China can wage against America using this stolen data is literally endless.
In a previous SOFREP article we pointed out how this is not simply a case of industrial espionage, but rather that the Chinese are actively preparing the battle space for a future armed conflict:
By hacking information about the CIA and other government agencies, the Chinese government is essentially compiling a massive database of any and all personnel employed by the U.S. government. What they plan do to with that information in the future is unknown, but whatever it is it should scare the hell out of you. The day China wants to invade Taiwan or take other aggressive military action, the Chinese government could empty the bank accounts of every U.S. government employee. They wouldn’t even be able to get to work at the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA, SOCOM, PACOM, or wherever else because they couldn’t buy a tank of gas. China could further prepare the battle space by tailoring their information warfare to key individuals, like shutting down Admiral McRaven’s entire electronic profile, emptying his bank accounts, shutting down his cell phone, and changing his user credentials on sensitive computer terminals which would remove this key personality from the chessboard on D-Day.
Pete Nealen states that the OPM hack should not have surprised us:
The recent OPM hack has highlighted (again) Chinese strategic opposition to the United States. While the Chinese use of cyber and economic warfare is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, it may well be worthwhile to look into some of the literature the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has produced on the subject. As our own Coriolanus has pointed out, the Chinese have announced everything they’ve done; it’s just been overlooked in the mass of documentation and communication (with too few Mandarin speakers to sift through it), or it hasn’t fallen into our set categories.