Focusing On Softer Targets

In regards to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach I noted that the federal government’s networks are only as secure as the weakest link. While it’s likely federal agencies such as the Department of Defense (DoD) and National Security Agency (NSA) have much more secure networks than the OPM or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the fact that all these federal agencies share data amongst each other means an attack only needs to breach the weakest network. Apparently that’s what China has been doing:

WASHINGTON — After years of cyberattacks on the networks of high-profile government targets like the Pentagon, Chinese hackers appear to have turned their attention to far more obscure federal agencies.

Law enforcement and cybersecurity analysts in March detected intrusions on the computer networks of the Government Printing Office and the Government Accountability Office, senior American officials said this week.

It’s a smart move. Just as much valuable information can be gleamed from lesser known agencies as more famous agencies. The fact is federal agencies have so much data on both individuals and government operations that they’re all prime targets. Herein again lies the fallacy of the “nothing to hide” crowd. They believe the only eyes that will be looking at the data the federal government has collected on them is the federal government. Truth be told other eyes such as foreign governments and malicious hackers will also be looking at their data.

The reason it’s important to keep as much data away from the federal government as possible is not just because of what the federal government will do with it but also because of the likelihood it will lose control of that data in the future.