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Think tanks hit by hackers from China, other nations

American think tanks are key targets in a “furious wave of cyber-espionage” aimed at U.S. government and business by China and other countries, according to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told USA TODAY that the hacking is part of a campaign by China and other nations to obtain valuable information on a number of fronts, from policy deliberations and pending litigation to national defense and private product development.

Think tanks provide important research, strategy and support on policy formulation for U.S. leaders in the White House, Pentagon, Congress, State Department and federal agencies. Their ranks of scholars are populated by former and potentially future government officials.

Shawn Henry, the FBI’s former top cybersecurity official, said overall cyberattack complaints reported to U.S. authorities were increasing by 20% annually. He said that think tanks, consulting organizations and law firms — all of which play roles in shaping U.S. policy and strategy — have long been prized targets of foreign espionage operations.

“These organizations aggregate very valuable data, and that’s exactly the kind of information that foreign intelligence services are looking for,” said Henry, who left the FBI this year. “Over the past two years, attacks have increased at a substantial rate.”

Said Rogers: “The scope of this is breathtaking.”

James Andrew Lewis, a senior fellow and director of technology and public policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that during the transition to the Obama administration in 2008 and 2009 some people moving from think tanks and the private sector into the administration had their e-mail accounts hacked. He said the hackers were looking for information to help build profiles on those who were about to serve in the government.

via Think tanks hit by hackers from China, other nations.

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