Chinese Hackers still have access to email of Top US Officials

Pierluigi Paganini August 12, 2015

A senior U.S. intelligence official revealed that Chinese hackers have accessed the private emails of “many” top Obama administration officials.

According to an official of the US intelligence, Chinese hackers have accessed the private emails of “many” top members of the Obama administration. The news was reported by the NBC News which obtained a top secret document demonstrating it. The access to the email has been doing so since at least April 2010, the US intelligence initially codenamed the cyber espionage operation “Dancing Panda,” later it was identified with the name “Legion Amethyst.”

The “Dancing Panda” operation is one of the intrusions discovered by the US intelligence and recently revealed by the NBC news.

nsa map chinese attacks

It is important to clarify that government email accounts belonging to the US officials were not hacked, the senior official reported to NBC News that the private emails of “all top national security and trade officials” were targeted.

The news was reported in a top secret document referencing an NSA briefing from 2014. According to the source, the hackers still have access to the personal emails a situation that is warning the officials of the US intelligence.

In 2011, Google publicly confirmed that the private gmail accounts of some US officials had been compromised, but according to the NSA briefing Google wasn’t the unique service provider targeted by the hackers.

The Chinese hackers managed a cyber espionage campaign on a large scale by infiltrating email address books of targeted officials and their social networks.

“The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then “exploiting the(ir) social networks” by sending malware to their friends and colleagues. The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official.” states the NBC News.

The news doesn’t surprise, an NSA document leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that in late 2010 Chinese hackers have run a cyber espionage campaign which attempted to spy on the emails of four U.S. officials, including then Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead.

In that circumstance the Chinese hackers had tried to infect targets’ machines with a malware.

Chinese hackers spy us officials

NBC News reported that prior to the 2008 presidential election, Chinese hackers had targeted the presidential campaigns of then Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain and had successfully compromised some emails, including private correspondence from McCain.

The NSA declined to comment the news.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Chinese Hackers , cyber espionage)

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