The FBI has launched an investigation into the security breach that had affected computers of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for several years starting from 2010, according to people familiar with the matter.
Senior officials of the FDIC believe that the infiltration was sponsored by the military of China, as revealed in a congressional report that was published in July.
Hackers Invade The FDIC
According to the congressional report, the Chinese government was the primary suspect for the hacks that were launched in 2010, 2011 and 2013 to infiltrate FDIC computers, including that of former FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair.
However, employees at the federal agency covered up the data breaches so that the outcome of the confirmation of FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg in 2011 would not be affected.
FDIC technology head Russ Pittman ordered employees to maintain their silence on the hacking attacks, as news about the data breaches might have impeded the congressional approval of Gruenberg, who was nominated to the post by outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama. Incumbent officials also helped in the cover-up of the incidents.
FBI Launches Probe On FDIC Hacks
The FDIC is one of three federal agencies that regulate the commercial banks of the United States. Part of its function is to oversee the confidential plans of big banks on how they would handle cases of bankruptcy, with the FDIC also having access to the records of millions of individual deposits in the country.
A Reuters report claimed that the FDIC allowed congressional staff last month to take a look at the communications that were sent between senior official of the banking regulator that were related to the security breach. The exchanges claimed that the cyberattacks were launched by hackers who were sponsored by the Chinese military, but there was no explanation on why the officials believe that it was China behind the security breaches.
Reuters said that while it was not able to take a look at the records, it was able to confirm that the FBI probe is still active, though it is unclear when the investigation started.
A spokeswoman for the FDIC, Barbara Hagenbaugh, did not comment on the previously unknown investigation launched by the FBI, nor on the belief that it was China that was behind the hacking attacks.
Cybersecurity Problems For The US Government
The alleged breach by China into the FDIC is just one of several cybersecurity problems that the agency has suffered from. In fact, there have been seven major incidents reported by the FDIC since 2015.
The U.S. government has also been experiencing cybersecurity problems in much wider forms though, with one of the most recent ones being the accused interference of Russia-sponsored hackers in the recently concluded presidential elections.