World View: Speculation Grows About China’s Purpose in Giant Government Hacking Breach

Reuters/Kacper Pempel

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Tsipras gives bitter, defiant speech to Greece’s parliament
  • Speculation grows about China’s purpose in giant government hacking breach

Tsipras gives bitter, defiant speech to Greece’s parliament

Alexis Tsipras giving speech to parliament on Friday (Kathimerini)
Alexis Tsipras giving speech to parliament on Friday (Kathimerini)

As expected, Greece did not make its 300 million euro debt payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday, and instead will have to pay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF on June 30. June 30 will be the end of Greece’s current bailout plan, and there will be no more bailout money available under any terms.

So it seems that after several years of “kicking the can down the road,” and postponing making the hard decisions, the Greece bailout crisis will finally run out of road on June 30. And whatever the outcome, it’s certain to be very unpleasant.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was defiant and bitter in a speech he gave to Greece’s parliament on Friday:

Time is not only running out for us, it is running out for everyone. […]

The proposals submitted by lenders are unrealistic. The Greek government cannot consent to absurd proposals. […]

I would like to believe that this proposal was an unfortunate moment for Europe, or at least a bad negotiating trick, and will very soon be withdrawn by the same people who thought it up. […]

We don’t just need an agreement, we need a definitive solution, both for Greece and for Europe, that will finally end the talk of a Greek exit from the eurozone. […]

The fiscal strangulation of a country is a moral issue that conflicts with Europe’s founding principles – which raises well-founded questions on Europe’s future.

Tsipras called on opposition parties to support him in the ongoing negotiations. The far left factions in his own Syriza party have already indicated that they won’t support any plan that calls for any austerity.

Tsipras’s predecessor, center right New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, responded by telling the prime minister that he had “some nerve” asking for support at this time. He accused Tsipras of mishandling the negotiations and tipping Greece back into recession. “You have totally destroyed the country and isolated us,” he said. Kathimerini and Guardian (London)

Speculation grows about China’s purpose in giant government hacking breach

Chinese hackers are suspected in a massive breach compromising the computers at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Department of the Interior. The personal information of 4 million U.S. current and former federal employees were compromised in the breach. The OPM is the human resources department for the federal government, and so every government agency is potentially affected. The data goes back to 1985.

As usual, the Chinese feigned outrage at anyone who could suspect them of such a thing, and complained that any such accusation would be “irresponsible and unscientific.”

The perpetrators are believed to be the same Chinese hackers behind the Anthem health insurance data breach in March, where 80 million current and former customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans had their personal information compromised, including birthdates, addresses, and social security numbers.

Assuming that the Chinese are the perpetrators, questions are being raised about what they are planning to do with all this data. The Chinese now have a massive data base of detailed personal information on tens or hundreds of millions of Americans. What are they going to do with this?

If the Chinese want to penetrate another company, they can use detailed information from the files to craft personalized phony messages to trick workers. These are called “spear phishing” messages. A worker receiving such a message might think it is from a family member and click on something in the message that infects their computer, or which gives the hacker access to the other data bases in the company network. With this technique, the Chinese can penetrate one company after another, using the information gathered from one breach to gain access to perpetrate the next breach.

It is not known how certain government officials are that the Chinese government is the perpetrator. It is possible that they know with 100% certainty based on NSA data. However, even if they’re that certain, they couldn’t say so because they would be accusing China of an act of war, and a response would be required. AP and CNN and Reuters and Dark Reading

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Greece, Alexis Tsipras, Antonis Samaras, China, Office of Personnel Management, OPM, Anthem health insurance, spear phishing
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