Recently, we learned of a federal data breach involving the personal records of around four million current and former government employees. While information about the scope of the attack is still developing, we do know that US investigators are saying that it could affect nearly every government agency and is likely the largest federal government data breach to date. US investigators believe they can trace the attack to the Chinese government, claims that Beijing has called baseless.
In regards to cybersecurity, relations between the US and China haven’t been the best in the past. Each side has pointed fingers in cyberattacks before, with the US saying not too long ago the Chinese government may have stolen terabytes worth of data about a new jet fighter being developed. This latest attack further enforces the idea that nations are moving towards cyber warfare with each other. These sorts of attacks are becoming more and more common in the news, and we're now seeing nations forming cybersecurity divisions devoted to protecting national security as well as have offensive abilities.
With over four million records stolen of government employees in this breach, a question that comes up is “what will they do with all of that data?” US officials believe China is trying to compile a large database of Americans' sensitive data, but they are unsure of the purpose of that database. While they may just take the stolen data and save it, it’s possible there could be other ideas in store for it, such as fraud and impersonation. The data could be sold to other governments that may want it for their own use for attacks, or they could even use the information gained to have further successful attacks in the future.
This is also a grim reminder that anyone with sensitive data needs to stay on top of security. Whether you are a small business or a national government, there is always someone out there that wants to get a hold of your data. It was mentioned this breach of data occurred right before the adoption of tougher security controls. In this instance, they were unfortunately too late, but this is a good reason to show why putting off updates and security upgrades can be a bad idea. If there is a soft spot in security somewhere, it’s just a matter of time before an attacker may find it and exploit it.