DHS refrains from blaming China for hack

DHS refrains from blaming China for hack
© Greg Nash

The head of the Department of Homeland Security declined Wednesday to directly blame China for a recent hack affecting tens of millions of government workers, but alluded to “fundamental” disagreements between the two countries.   

“I think that we have differing views on a lot of fundamental issues — about a fundamental understanding of the nature of cybersecurity,” Secretary Jeh Johnson said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday. “It continues to be a work in progress, but I think that a dialogue can be good.”

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Despite the rampant speculation and private accusations that the Chinese government is behind the hack on the Office of Personnel Management — which resulted in the theft of an estimate 18 million people’s data — the Obama administration has refused to publicly point the finger at Beijing.

Last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that China was “the leading suspect” behind the attack. 

 “The DNI [director of national intelligence] said we have a leading suspect but we’re simply not prepared at this point to identify who that is,” Johnson said on Wednesday.

“The Sony situation was a different type of situation,” he added, referring to last year’s damaging hack at Sony Pictures, which the White House pointedly blamed on North Korea. “That was in many respects a different type of episode — a different character of different nature.”