US agencies leasing from foreign-owned firms at risk: report

US agencies leasing from foreign-owned firms at risk: report
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A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says national security agencies are vulnerable to hacking and espionage because some of their offices are located in buildings owned by foreign entities, CNN reported.

Offices for the Secret Service, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Homeland Security are located in buildings leased from foreign-based companies, including a Chinese firm called Gemini Investments, according to the news network.  

"[L]easing space in foreign-owned buildings could present security risks such as espionage, unauthorized cyber and physical access to the facilitates, and sabotage," the GAO report says.

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For example, a DHS foreign investment official said that potential threat actors could coerce owners into collecting intelligence about the personnel and activities of the facilities when maintaining the property."

Of the 14 agencies contacted by the GAO for the report, nine did not know the leased space was owned by a foreign entity.

Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzDem demands documents from TSA after scathing security report Chaffetz replacement sworn in as House member Democrats expand House map after election victories MORE (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told CNN he hopes the report is an “eye opener." 

"Certainly our security professionals should know who owns the piping in the buildings that they occupy,” he said.

Chaffetz said he did not know of any cases in which information was compromised due to the leases.

The report notes that “access at high-security facilities is strictly controlled” and “passive investors in properties do not have access to the buildings.”