United States officials are now worried about the hacked data may put their spies at risk. The hacked documents by the Chinese hackers has become a headache for the U.S. officials as they believe Chinese government could use the stolen records of millions of federal workers and contractors to piece together the identities of intelligence officers secretly posted in China over the years.
However, some officials in the President Obama administration said that the theft was not as damaging as it might have been because the Chinese hackers did not gain access to the identities of American undercover spies.
Similarly, it is still unclear that how Chinese officials were using or might use the stolen files, which include personal information gathered during background checks of government workers.
According to a news report published in NYTimes, it would be a significant setback for intelligence agencies already concerned that a recent data breach at the Office of Personnel Management is a major windfall for Chinese espionage efforts.
In the days after the breach of records of millions of federal workers and contractors became public last month.
The C.I.A. officials said intelligence agencies were taking steps to try to mitigate the damage however, it is not clear what are they doing.
According to the news report, “The information that was exfiltrated was valuable in its own right,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s even more compromising when it is used in combination with other information they may hold. It may take years before we’re aware of the full extent of the damage.”
“The C.I.A. and other agencies typically post their spies in American embassies, where the officers pose as diplomats working on political affairs, agricultural policy or other issues,” the report read.
It is said that even if the identities of the agency officers were not in the personnel office’s database, Chinese intelligence operatives could run searches through the database on everyone granted visas to work at American diplomatic outposts in China.
During an interview, the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, “From an intelligence perspective, it gives you great insight potentially used for counterintelligence purposes,”
“If I’m interested in trying to identify U.S. persons who may be in my country — and I am trying to figure out why they are there: Are they just tourists? Are they there for some other alternative purpose? There are interesting insights from the data you take from O.P.M,” he added.