Back in 2010, Google reported that Chinese hackers had been able to breach its systems. This triggered a very real concern from the U.S. government, leading to an investigation by FBI. Now, government officials have revealed that during the hack, Chinese hackers were able to access databases of highly sensitive information.
The sensitive information essentially refers to knowledge of U.S. surveillance targets as well as names of any under-cover agents that U.S. security agencies may have in China. No one is sure exactly how much of this information was attained by the hackers. But the government officials claim that these hackers did access valuable information for sure.
Especially, any such persons who maintained Gmail accounts, were the primary focus of these hackers. If any of these users were under-cover agents, the hack essentially put their lives in danger. Alternatively, if any of them was being monitored by the U.S. intelligence agencies, the Chinese hackers could have disseminated the information to the Chinese government, thus defying the whole purpose of monitoring.
These concerns are compounded by similar concerns cited by Microsoft recently. According to a Microsoft official, the Chinese hackers also tried to access Microsoft’s servers and tried to reach such accounts which had been tagged for surveillance by the U.S. authorities.
According to Microsoft’s David W. Aucsmith, “What we found was the attackers were actually looking for the accounts that we had lawful wiretap orders on.” This method, Aucsmith stated, was fairly sophisticated since rather than trying to directly access FBI servers, these hackers tried to identify the monitored personnel by going through their emails.
Source: Washington Post