WASHINGTON – The FBI is investigating Chinese government hackers for allegedly hacking into the U.S. Postal Service computers, putting the data of 800,000 employees at risk, The Washington Post reported Monday.
The investigation came to light just as President Barack Obama is visiting Beijing to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.
Officials close to the investigation cited by the newspaper blamed China for the Postal Service hack-in, which the FBI discovered in mid-September.
However, the Chinese government has always denied accusations of cyber-spying, one of the issues that is tarnishing the relations between the two countries.
The cyber-intrusion was carried out by “a sophisticated actor that appears not to be interested in identity theft or credit card fraud,” USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said.
“It is an unfortunate fact of life these days that every organization connected to the Internet is a constant target for cyber intrusion activity,” the U.S. postmaster general, Patrick Donahoe, said in a statement.
“The United States Postal Service is no different. Fortunately, we have seen no evidence of malicious use of the compromised data and we are taking steps to help our employees protect against any potential misuse of their data,” he added.
Nevertheless, the USPS believes that the cyberthieves were unable to access the most important data, including names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and personal information about employees.
Credit card information on customers or data about purchases that have been made online from the Postal Service are safe, the agency said.
Shoring up the system to prevent new hack-attacks was carried out this past weekend and resulted in involuntary interruptions of the system.
FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell asked the public and postal employees to report to the federal agency’s online complaints department any suspicions or information they may have about who may be responsible.