Hackers had access to several computers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 2010 and a current congressional and FBI investigation has linked the intrusion to China’s military. Nor the FDIC or the FBI have commented on the matter, but people familiar with the case have confirmed that China was involved in the hacking attack.

The 2010 security breach also compromised FDIC Chairwoman Sheita Bair’s workstation. The cyber-attack was first reported in October 2010 and persisted the next year and possibly the next one as well. An internal probe conducted by FDIC’s inspector general states that staff worked on the case at least through 2012.  The hack is being investigated by a congressional committee.

The entrance of the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation is seen in Washington. Image Credit: Chuck Myers/ZUMA Wire

The agency discovered that several computers and the FDIC’s then-chairwoman were breached, but FDIC officials were not brief about the situation until August 2011.

The FDIC is one of three federal agencies that regulate commercial banks in the U.S. and supervises private plans regarding bankruptcy. The FDIC establishes how big banks would handle bankruptcy. Thus, it has access to records on millions of individual American deposits.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has allowed congressional personnel to view the agency’s internal communications between senior FDIC officials related to the hacking, according to Reuters.

The officials in charge of the case have said that Chinese military-sponsored hackers led the attacks, but Reuter’s sources do not know how the cyber attack was related to China. They did not have access the exchanges the FDIC had with Congress.

There is also a current FBI probe investigating the hack, but it is unknown for how long the investigation has been opened.

The FDIC has been under cyber attack more than 150 times

A FDIC annual report explains that the agency has been hacked at least 159 times during 2015. Twenty incidents were confirmed data breaches, according to Reuters who obtained the information from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

A July report from the committee stated that hackers were suspected to be related to China’s government.

Apart from major data breaches, most of the incidents included security lapses involving employees copying sensitive information and then leaving the FDIC.

FDIC’s inspector general found in an audit in November that the agency cyber security was failing. “Vulnerability scanning” were not being performed correctly, which allowed hackers to enter the system without being seen.

The agency has said it is working on security standards, including a ban on thumb drives and better coordination with the Department of Homeland Security to prevent future cyber attacks.

The FDIC has hired a firm specialized in probing Chinese military hackers, called Mandiant. The company is hoped to shed light on the investigation to discover what happened during the 2010 FDIC cyber attack.

Reuters sources could not elaborate on whether the FBI or the Congress will sanction China once the probes have ended although President Donald Trump has vowed to confront the Asian country.

The FDIC hack is one of many that have put at risk the future of the United States, including the CIA report that states Russia hacked the last presidential elections.  

Source: Reuters