In Focus: U.S. and China Reach ‘Understanding’ on Cyber-Espionage

By Aliah D. Wright Sep 30, 2015
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News repo​​rts reveal that Chinese hackers have accessed U.S. government and business online information hundreds of times within the last five years. In one of the most devastating attacks linked to the Chinese government, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suffered a breach earlier this year in which the personal data of millions of past and present federal employees was stolen—including millions of fingerprints.

(SHRM Online) and (International Business Times)

On Sept. 25, 2015, shortly after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Barack Obama said from the White House Rose Garden that both countries have reached a “common understanding” about cyber espionage.

“Today I can announce that our two countries have reached a common understanding on the way forward,” Obama said. “We agreed that neither the U.S. [nor] the Chinese government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial advantage. In addition, we’ll work together and with other nations to promote international rules of the road for appropriate conduct in cyber space.” Some say China hasn't gone far enough to stop attacks.

(NBC News) and (The Washington Times)

Will the Hacking Really Stop?

Or, more to the point, is there anything the U.S. can do to make it stop? Not really, says least one expert. Interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, former Federal Bureau of Investigation cyber detective Austin Berglas says there’s nothing stopping the Chinese from gaining access to sensitive computer networks.

(The Wall Street Journal)

HR Should Remain Vigilant

Especially now that courts have said employers could be charged with negligence for not keeping consumer data secure.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in August that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can sue companies that have undergone a data breach.

“The ruling that the FTC has a right to ensure the security of American citizens when traversing the digital commons of corporate America is significant,” said Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer at security software provider Trend Micro.

(SHRM Online)

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