Chinese hackers successfully accessed U.S. government computer networks in March, hoping to find information about “tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances,” The New York Times reports.
The attack centered on the Office of Personnel Management, the newspaper says; it was reportedly detected and blocked – but not before the hackers had gotten into some of the agency’s databases.
The government hasn’t “identified any loss of personally identifiable information,” a senior Homeland Security official tells the Times.
The newspaper notes that it’s not clear whether the hackers were working for China’s government.
The story comes out more than a year after a U.S. security firm traced hacking attacks on U.S. companies to a Chinese military unit — and months after the U.S. leveled formal accusations against five military officials in May.
Those charges angered Chinese officials, who said the U.S. uses a double standard when it comes to its international stance on hacking.
Secretary of State John Kerry is currently in China for annual talks that he says have already touched on the subjects of hacking and electronic theft. Those sessions, titled the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, began Wednesday.
“We had a frank exchange on cyber issues at our strategic security dialogue,” Kerry says. He added that the discussions will continue.