It’s becoming all too familiar. A normality in our modern age. Hackers; the felons of tomorrow today and they are proving relentless. US government workers the latest to be hit by what is being dubbed a ‘massive data breach’.
What sounds like the starting episode plot for another season of 24, it was revealed yesterday that compromising US data, more specifically federal agents’ private and confidential information from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) might have been accessed in yet another cyber attack that is thought to have happened back in December. This time, the blame is being placed on China, although of course, they deny any wrongdoing and are accusing the US Government of ‘jumping to conclusions’.
Although there are currently 2.7 million federal executive branch employees, the breach could affect up to 4 million, as it includes the information of former employees too. The worries are that this extremely sensitive information could be used to interrogate, impersonate and/or indeed blackmail the involved parties. Reportedly responsible for up to 90% of federal background investigations, yet again, it’s not just a few names, numbers and addresses that have been obtained. It’s information with a national security threat.
The US and the US government are always going to be a target, but the problem is the word ‘easy’ being attributed to that target. In March last year, OPM networks were targeted but hacks were thwarted before the suspected Chinese intruders could access sensitive data, whilst hackers in November 2014, might have compromised the files of 25,000 Department of Homeland Security employees. And of course, we all know about the Sony attacks at the hands and keyboards of North Korea, in response to their displeasure with the release of the James Franco and Seth Rogen spoof film in which they plot to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, The Interview.
Just last month, the US government downplayed the fact that a computer was accessed that would reveal the POTUS’s schedule. The threats that breaches like this could incur are surely the nightmares of US government security professionals. Obama has stressed the need to strengthen the security systems of the US; not least because it’s appearing to resemble a hurricane hit treehouse rather than a military guarded Fort Knox, which you would expect for the nebula of the US defence machine.
We know that hacking is the criminal activity of the future. Last April’s ‘Heartbleed Attacks’ in which encryptions, the systems which are meant to protect our information, was targeted proves that ‘they’ are looking to make us all fall victim. However, the fear is that even the heavyweights can’t withstand the hackers punches. The US government is being knocked down in every round. The response needs to be a fully guarded, unquestionable defence.
On June 20th, the WNWA Annual Conference ‘Combating Cyber Crime’, will take place, focusing on emerging cyber crime issues and ways in which they might be resolved. On June 30th, another will look at current trends, threats and investigation techniques. To attend either, click and register. It’s good for us all to stay vigilante.