Chinese hackers have allegedly broken into the system network of the US Postal Service (USPS) and stolen data belonging to 800,000 employees, according to news reports.
Compromised data includes names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of employment and other private information, the USPS said.
However, it seems the perpetrators were not specifically interested in the data.
â€œIt is an unfortunate fact of life these days that every organization connected to the Internet is a constant target for cyber intrusion activity,â€ Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said. â€œThe United States Postal Service is no different. Fortunately, we have seen no evidence of malicious use of the compromised data and we are taking steps to help our employees protect against any potential misuse of their data.â€
This raised questions over the identity of the hackers. Security experts said China might be spying to gather large sets of data on US citizens.
â€œTheyâ€™re just looking for big pots of data on government employees,â€ said James A. Lewis, cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. â€œFor the Chinese, this is probably a way of building their inventory on U.S. persons for counterintelligence and recruitment purposes.â€
The intrusion, discovered in mid-September, also affected customers who contacted the Postal Service Customer Care Center by phone or e-mail in the first six months of 2014, USPS said. Their names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers were exposed. Social Security numbers and customer credit card information from post offices or online purchases were not affected, officials said.