Chinese hackers gained access to personnel files of US federal employees
A report in The New York Times Thursday says the newspaper has learned from U.S. government officials that Chinese computer hackers attempted to gain access to the personnel files of tens of thousands of federal employees who have applied for top secret security clearances.
The report says the hackers gained access back in March to some of the databases of the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that oversees the federal workforce. The unnamed officials say authorities detected the threat and blocked them from the OPM's computer network.
The Times says it is not yet clear how far the hackers had penetrated the agency's systems, where applicants for security clearances list personal information such as foreign contacts and past drug use.
An official with the Department of Homeland Security confirmed the attack had occurred, but said neither OPM nor Homeland Security had "identified any loss of personally identifiable information."
U.S. prosecutors last month indicted a group of Chinese hackers working for a unit of the People's Liberation Army and charged them with stealing corporate secrets. The same unit has been accused in the past of intrusions into U.S. government computer systems, including the office of the Defense Secretary.
Computer intrusions have been a major source of contention between the United States and China. Evidence revealed by Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency, shows the NSA ran programs to intercept the conversations of Chinese leaders and the military.
North Korea proposes sending delegation to the Asian Games
North Korea has proposed talks on its plan to send a delegation to the Asian Games being held later this year in South Korea. The North's Olympic Committee said the working-level talks could be held next Tuesday in the border village of Panmunjom.
South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, says it is considering the offer and will respond later Thursday.
It is not clear what exactly would be discussed in the proposed talks, though logistical issues for the northern delegation could be one topic.
Pyongyang plans to send 150 athletes and a squad of cheerleaders to the games, which are being held in Incheon in late September and early October.
It would be the first time in nine years that North Korea has sent a cheerleading squad to a South Korean athletic event. North Korea says the delegation is meant to improve bilateral relations that have suffered amid a series of recent missile tests by the North.