China-related things that happened today: President Obama arrived in Beijing, and the USPS announced that its computer networks were hacked—with fingers being pointed at China. The FBI is investigating the hack, which came to light in mid-September and was finally squashed over the weekend, reports the Washington Post. How a USPS rep categorized the party behind the breach: "a sophisticated actor that appears not to be interested in identity theft or credit card fraud." The postmaster general says, "Fortunately, we have seen no evidence of malicious use of the compromised data," data that sounds pretty broad: It includes names, birthdates, SSNs, addresses, and employment history for every single USPS employee—that's 800,000 people.
The Post talked to analysts who gave their take on why a foreign government may have targeted the USPS. One line of thought is that China may have expected our USPS to be like its own postal service: owned by the state, and rich in data on its citizens. Another: "They're just looking for big pots of data on government employees. For the Chinese, this is probably a way of building their inventory on US persons for counterintelligence and recruitment [purposes]." No consumer credit card info related to post-office transactions was grabbed, but those who contacted its Customer Care Center between Jan. 1 and Aug. 16 had their data—which didn't include SSNs—accessed.