China has been accused in recent months of orchestrating a massive hack against the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management, the insurance company Anthem, and more. According to a recently leaked report and unnamed government official, Chinese spies have also been reading emails from top Obama administration officials since at least April 2010. According to the leaked report, the email hack was first spotted in early 2010, and was codenamed both “Dancing Panda” and “Legion Amethyst” by the NSA. The report was made in 2014, and indicates the email breach was still actively happening at that time.
The information comes from NBC News, which reported today that it has acquired a “top secret document”, and has also spoken with a “senior U.S. intelligence official” about the email breach. According to the unnamed government official, this email breach is still underway.
The hack involves private email accounts. Google revealed in 2011 that Gmail accounts belonging to U.S. government officials were compromised. This leaked report allegedly reveals that the private accounts of U.S. officials on other providers were also compromised. The unnamed source stated to NBC that “all top national security and trade officials” were in the hackers’ targets, though it isn’t clear if all were breached.
The hackers also went beyond email accounts, reportedly stealing email address books and, after reconstructing them, using those officials’ social networks to lob malware at the officials’ colleagues and friends. The briefing does not go so far as to detail the names of the officials who were affected by the breach, nor their ranks.
As NBC News points out, an NSA document that was previously leaked by Snowden showed a late-2010 spying attempt from China that targeted the email accounts of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. It isn’t clear if the spying attempt was successful.
SOURCE: NBC News