The information of over 800,000 U.S. Postal Service employees may have been accessed by Chinese government hackers. Officials said they discovered the breach in the middle of September. The FBI is still investigating the hacking attack.
USPS employee data possibly exposed
Although officials did not say who might be responsible for the cyber-attack, The Washington Post reports that they believe hackers with the Chinese government did it. China has repeatedly denied accusations that it actively promotes hacking. Beijing said cyber-crime is prohibited under Chinese law.
Earlier this year, officials also discovered other cyber-breaches into the networks of government contractor USIS and the Office of Personnel Management. According to The Washington Post, officials linked both of those cases back to China.
What the hackers may have stolen
Authorities said the information accessed by the hackers included employee names, their addresses, dates of birth and of employment, social security numbers and other personal data. They added that there were no signs that consumers’ credit card information from local post office branches or purchases made online at USPS.com had been breached.
Officials added that so far there has been no evidence of “malicious use of the compromised data” and that they are “taking steps” to keep USPS employees safe from possible misuse of their information.
Why the U.S. Postal Service?
A spokesperson for the USPS said the perpetrator of this latest attack was “a sophisticated actor that appears not to be interested in identity theft or credit card fraud.” As a result, it’s unclear what the hacker may have gained by accessing the information. With the previous hacking attacks, the hackers could have used the information to access the information of people who engage in sensitive government work, as USIS conducts security background checks for the government.
According to The Washington Post, some analysts think it makes sense for China to target the USPS because it is a federal agency. For example, Chinese officials by assume that the Postal Service is more similar to its own postal service, which keeps large amounts of information on all of its citizens.
In addition, they say this trend is the same as what has been happening in the commercial sector. The hackers seem to be collecting large amounts of data to conduct analysis for unknown purposes.