Chinese Cyberspies Raid Personal Inboxes of U.S. Government Officials
- By Ginger Hill
- Aug 11, 2015
Concerning privately-held email accounts, NBC News recently outed China for actively targeting the personal email accounts of White House officials, even though it’s been going on since April 2010. During the early stages, U.S. officials code named the attack as “Dancing Panda” and then changed it to “Legion Amethyst” in 2014.
For the past 5 years, Chinese cyberspies have found vacation plans, notes to friends and other everyday inbox correspondence from private emails of the Obama Administration. Likely mundane, knowing this information could help criminals piece together exactly where a high-ranking U.S. official will be, making the possibility for terrorism a real concern.
The attack didn’t target White House IT infrastructure, but free email services of which Gmail by Google was the preference. The total number of successfully-targeted officials is unclear, but the fact that hackers were able to breach these accounts to begin with should be of upmost concern. Here’s why:
- Easily falling for phishing: This breach demonstrates that government employees are the administration’s weakest link when it comes to cyber security. Phishing can be done successfully even by unskilled scammers, but when executed by professional scammers, even the savviest employees can easily be tricked.
- More accounts accessed: By U.S. officials simply clicking what seemed like a safe link in their emails, they may have actually gave these cyberspies access to other areas of their digital lives like bank accounts.
Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.