China Says Hack of U.S. Government Was Not State Sponsored
China's official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday that an investigation into a massive U.S. computer breach last year that affected more than 22 million federal workers found the hacking attack was criminal, not state-sponsored.
In an article about a meeting between top U.S. and Chinese officials on cyber security issues held in Washington, Xinhua said the breach at the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was among the cases discussed.
The report did not give details of who conducted the investigation, or whether U.S. and Chinese officials both agreed with the conclusion.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing referred Reuters to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security in Washington for comment on the talks.
The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country's Internet regulator, did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
OPM has been under scrutiny from lawmakers and the public ever since it disclosed earlier this year that it had fallen victim to two cyber attacks, which officials have privately linked to Chinese hackers.
The intrusions exposed sensitive personal information, including names, Social Security numbers and addresses of more than 22 million current and former federal employees and contractors, in addition to 5.6 million fingerprints.
Top U.S. and Chinese officials convened this week in Washington for the first round of cyber security talks following the signing of a bilateral anti-hacking accord in September.
The talks on Tuesday and Wednesday are seen as potentially significant in establishing acceptable norms for cyber espionage.
China and the U.S. reached a broad agreement on the joint fight against cyber crimes, and will set up a hotline for these issues, according to Xinhua and CCTV, China's state-operated national broadcaster.
CCTV said a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on any agreement.
The next meeting is scheduled for next June, Xinhua said.
Along with the OPM hack, officials from the two countries identified other cases to work on, reached further consensus on fighting cyber terrorism and agreed on programs to boost the fight against cyber crimes, Xinhua said, without giving further details.
It also marks an ongoing effort to repair bilateral relations after China withdrew from a working group last year in response to the U.S. indictment of five members of its military on charges it hacked six U.S. companies.
(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Ryan Woo)