Feds Who Didn't Even Discover The OPM Hack Themselves, Still Say We Should Give Them Cybersecurity Powers

from the really-now? dept

We already described how the recent hack into the US federal government's Office of Personnel Management (OPM) appears to be much more serious than was initially reported. The hack, likely by Chinese state hackers, appear to have obtained basically detailed personal info on all current and many former federal government employees.

And here's the amazing thing: the federal government wasn't the one who figured out they'd been hacked. Instead, it's now coming out that it was discovered during a product demo from a cybersecurity company (guess their product works, huh?). According to the Wall Street Journal:
But four people familiar with the investigation said the breach was actually discovered during a mid-April sales demonstration at OPM by a Virginia company called CyTech Services, which has a networks forensics platform called CyFIR. CyTech, trying to show OPM how its cybersecurity product worked, ran a diagnostics study on OPM’s network and discovered malware was embedded on the network. Investigators believe the hackers had been in the network for a year or more.
That may go down as one of the most effective product demos ever.

But, what's really sickening about all of this is that the federal government is already using this hack -- which it failed to discover -- as an excuse to pass new cybersecurity legislation, whose sole purpose is to give the feds more information, in the (faulty) belief that they'll "help" prevent future attacks. Within days of the initial report of the hack, Senator Mitch McConnell pointed to it as the reason to push cybersecurity legislation:
“It might or might not deal with every aspect of what apparently happened a few days ago. But Congress is going to act on cybersecurity on this bill in the very near future.”
Thankfully, cooler heads -- including Senator Patrick Leahy -- prevailed in pointing out that the OPM hack is no reason to rush into cybersecurity legislation -- but it's even more ridiculous than that. The entire premise of these cybersecurity bills is that we need this kind of information sharing so that government folks can "help" to better protect "critical infrastructure." But these same guys are so clueless they can't even protect their own staff files -- and then need outside help to even discover that they were hacked a year ago?

Perhaps it's time to move in the other direction and take away the government's mandate over "cybersecurity" because it's shown little indication that it can handle the problem.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    rw (profile), 12 Jun 2015 @ 1:20pm

    "Perhaps it's time to move in the other direction and take away the government's mandate over "cybersecurity" because it's shown little indication that it can handle the problem."

    Seconded!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 16 Jun 2015 @ 2:34am

      Re:

      Thirded, fourthed, and fifthed.

      Okay, the big "L's" win this one; the government is incompetent at dealing with cybersecurity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ambrellite, 12 Jun 2015 @ 2:20pm

    This story illustrates another fatal flaw of the collect-it-all intelligence strategy: all the information in the world can't fix stupid. Every expert worth their salt (and many non-experts too) told them encryption is very important, but they couldn't connect the dot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2015 @ 2:31pm

    If it is China and it is state sponsored, WHY THE FUCK do we still say it's ok for any US company to do business with them , why do 99% of all US products still have china stamped on them , to do business with China is to do business with terrorists right????
    /s maybe

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 12 Jun 2015 @ 4:25pm

      Re:

      Would you also agree that Germany should stop doing business with us, since we bugged the Chancellor?

      I agree that it's not OK, but we haven't exactly got the moral high ground.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2015 @ 3:32am

      Re:

      "If it is China and it is state sponsored, WHY THE FUCK do we still say it's ok for any US company to do business with them , why do 99% of all US products still have china stamped on them , to do business with China is to do business with terrorists right????"

      Because the US is so in debt to China that the Chinese practically own it now. You could say that the Chinese are just keeping tabs on their investment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      dirt-lover (profile), 14 Jun 2015 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      This why I'm sending back my Iphone TOMORROW

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    madasahatter (profile), 12 Jun 2015 @ 5:17pm

    OPM = Office of Personnel Mismanagement

    I have seen reports that OPM security was much worse than hideous. Apparently SSNs and the like were not encrypted. This is basic security.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2015 @ 5:37pm

    Chinese hackers ... yeah, right.
    Why do people connect sensitive/critical assets to the internet?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      James Clapper, 12 Jun 2015 @ 7:40pm

      Re:

      Exactly.

      Isn't it supposed to be the job of NSA to secure data like this?

      Maybe they need to spend a few hundred billion more on their illegal domestic surveillance programs. Everyone knows that mass collection, processing and storage of potential dirt on civil society actors is the first step in setting up basic network security.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2015 @ 9:17pm

    they just need to find a scapegoat to blame all this on and absolves them of any culpability in their efforts to collect illegally obtained info on the citizenry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Scholarly Scholar, 14 Jun 2015 @ 3:09pm

    Looks like a lot of people will be getting one years free credit monitoring...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.