China Used Stolen Data to Expose CIA Operatives in Africa and Europe
China may have been leveraging stolen data to identify and expose CIA operatives working in Africa and Europe, threatening the employees’ livelihood and work. In 2013, US intelligence agencies reported a concerning pattern: they began to notice the speed and accuracy of CIA operatives being discovered by Chinese intelligence. China would disrupt missions and seemingly want the US to know they were capable of identifying operatives. At the CIA, the occurrences were alarming, according to intelligence officials. The issue at hand was that China either hosted sophisticated intelligence capabilities or they had access to high-ranking US sources within its own intelligence agencies.
The CIA believes that China was conducting a cyberespionage campaign that was dedicated to stealing sensitive personal information such as travel and health data. They had also obtained US government personnel records. Though synthesizing information from the massive stolen data caches, they were able to identify the undercover US officials. Intelligence officials called this a professional utilization of datasets, claiming that the source of the issue was big data. This case is not unique, and many worry that China possesses critical advantages due to its networks, cyberspying, data theft, and weaponization of critical information, creating a war over data.