The FBI and other law enforcement agencies can stop looking for shadowy Chinese computer hackers to blame for the recent massive data theft which hit the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
That’s because it turns out no amount of security would have protected the private data because OPM had outsourced systems administration to Chinese nationals who had access to every bit of sensitive data.
Some of the contractors that have helped OPM [Office of Personnel Management] with managing internal data have had security issues of their own—including potentially giving foreign governments direct access to data long before the recent reported breaches.
A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China].
Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?’”
OPM bureaucrats went to Congress and complained they weren’t given enough funding to protect their systems. However, no amount of encryption on OPM networks would prevent the kind of data breaches created by network administrators who are Chinese nationals.